Fastpitch heads into playoffs as fifth seed

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By Javier Cabrera

By Javier Cabrera

The Riverside City College Fastpitch team ended their regular season strong and are now ready to head into the post season.

The Tigers had a chance to improve their conference standing with back to back games against Cypress and Fullerton, two of the most powerful teams in the Orange Empire Conference.

Their first shot came on April 15 against the Fullerton Hornets, who finished second best with a conference record of 18-3.

The Tigers were down 2-0 when the Hornets’ Jackie Taylor hit a two run homer in the fourth inning.

The Hornets added one more run in the seventh inning when catcher Jordyn Bohon scored on a single, adding to the Hornets lead and going up 3-0.

The Tigers came close to making it a game late when Audriana Gutierrez blasted a two run homer of her own putting RCC in position to win the game, but they fell short to the Hornets, losing 3-2.

Their next shot to improve their conference record came April 17 against No. 1 seed Cypress, who finished with a 20-1 conference record.

RCC had no chance of winning the game, losing 8-2.

With the two game losing streak and two more games on the road left in the season, the Tigers’ playoff hopes were hanging by a thread.

The team took care of business with two solid victories against sub .500 teams, beating Golden West 9-0 and Saddleback 4-1.

With an impressive season, the Tigers have earned themselves the No. 5 seed going into the playoffs.

Some highlights of the season include multiple long winning streaks, one reaching 10 straight victories. Included in the 10 game winning streak are their games in the Fresno Tournament that they participated in last month, where they went undefeated.

The conference selected RCC Tigers freshman Jackie Serena and sophomore Felicia Mendoza to receive first team all conference honors.

Four Cypress Chargers players, two Saddleback Gauchos, one Fulleron Hornet and one Santiago Canyon Hawk rounded the rest of the Orange Empire Conference All-First-Team-Conference.

Also, freshman Olivia Wilcox and Afton Williamson were selected to the second team all conference honors.

For the Tigers, who put four of their own into the two first teams, Fullerton and Cypress combined added eight of their own into the first team all-conference as the two most powerful teams in the conference.

Other noteable winners include, Natalie DeLeese of the Fullerton Hornets winning the Orange Empire Conference Player of the Year.

Natasha Ruiz of the Cypress Chargers won Orange Empire Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Also, both Fullerton Hornets and Cypress Chargers head coaches, Lisa Bassi and Brad Pickler won Co-Coach of the Year for the Orange Empire Conference.

With a season ending overall record of 33-11 and conference record of 15-6, the Tigers did not have to wait long to know where they will start in the playoffs.

RCC will open up the playoffs here at home as the No. 5 seed and will play host to No. 12 seed Palomar in a best-of-three series.

Palomar finished their regular season 21-17 with a conference record of 13-2.

They come into the playoff series riding a three game losing streak that could benefit the Tigers as they finished their season on a three game winning streak, winning eight of their last 10.

With a one time non-conference game on February 19 during the regular season, the RCC Tigers beat Palomar 12-2 in a game that ended in only five innings.

Winning pitcher, Felicia Mendoza, completed all five innings with five hits, two earned runs and nine strikeouts.

With an improvement on last season’s No. 9 seed, this season the No. 5 seed Tigers have one goal in mind, to bring home a championship.

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