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Tigers finding their stride

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By Vanessa Overbeck

By Vanessa Overbeck

Tiger fastpitch softball is showing signs of life. Riverside Community College is awakening from its softball stupor and is beginning to gather its collective offensive and defensive resources.The Tigers have won five of their last seven games. They’ve been victorious in both of their conference confrontations since the last issue, and they finished .500 at the Golden West Tournament held March 11-13. RCC picked up its first conference victory against Santa Ana College, defeating it in a one- run ballgame. Middle infielders Cassondra Hemsely and Melissa Ascencio drove in the Tigers’ runs. Left fielder Tiffanie Pittman, catcher Arinn Godoy, third baseman Breann Mead and right fielder Alicia Villalobos also each had hits against the Dons.RCC’s second conference victory came on March 9 against Orange Coast College. Nearly all of the Tiger starters earned hits and crossed home plate in their 10-1 defeat of the Pirates. The Tigers’ outstanding offensive performance was also matched by stellar defensive play. Led by Shalyn Skahill on the mound, who allowed only two Pirates to earn hits, the Tigers played errorless defense.But despite these wins the Tigers are still not working together as a cohesive unit. They are still leaving more runners on base than their opponents and of the 43 errors committed by the Tigers, 38 occurred in the infield. In fact, only eight of the 27 runs that scored against pitcher Skahill were earned. And only a little more than half of the runs that crossed the plate while Alexandra Ariaz was on the mound should have. With a combined earned-run average well below their opponents, the Tiger pitchers are certainly doing their job, but the team behind them is still trying to meld their offensive and defensive talents into a well-oiled fastpitch machine. RCC’s performance against Rio Hondo College was typical of this inconsistent team, except that they managed to squeak out a victory with its lackluster play.The rarely seen Tiger bunting game made an appearance against the Roadrunners, getting runners into scoring position early in the game. And the aggressive base running of Hemsley and Skahill, as well as the well-timed hits of Ascencio and Godoy, produced the Tigers’ two runs. But the final score of the game failed to reflect the fact that the Roadrunner pitcher had little more to offer the Tiger hitters than a shaky fastball and an even more questionable changeup. RCC failed to capitalize on the primary weakness of the Rio Hondo College fastpitch team, but RCC’s defense managed to save the victory by working past errors that put runners in scoring position. However, the Tigers are not performing as aggressively on defense as they are on the base paths. Second baseman Hemsley and first basemen Shelley Roeder’s confused pursuit of two foul pop flies failed to produce outs. And shortstop Ascencio stopped short of recovering a ground ball behind third base. But the middle infielders are showing greater confidence turning double plays at second. Somewhat rattled by the errors, pitcher Ariaz gave up walks at inconvenient moments, yet she pulled her team through with five strikeouts in key situations. Together, Ariaz and the Tigers forced the Roadrunners to leave six runners on base, more than half of which were in scoring position.In the third inning Skahill’s risky backhand grab in center field kept a run from scoring and again in the sixth inning her aggressive pursuit of a deep fly ball limited the Roadrunners to only one unearned run. The middle infielders also successfully contained the speed of Rio Hondo College’s quick left-handed slapper. RCC’s defense stepped up to the plate when its offense failed to do so against Rio Hondo College. The Tigers are not yet bringing all of their offensive and defensive talents to their games, but perhaps they’ll arrive with both their bats and their gloves when they face Fullerton College on March 30. Join the Tigers at Lovekin Field at 5 p.m. to see if they can “get it together” and unseat the favored Hornets.

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