By Javier Cabrera
By Javier Cabrera
As it took all three games to put Palomar away, the RCC Tigers feel they are in great position to take out No. 2 Fullerton next.
The Tigers opened up the playoffs May 2 with a 3-0 win in Game 1 against Palomar
The leadoff hitter for Palomar hit a triple on Tigers starting pitcher Corey Williams.
“It doesn’t bother me in situations like that because I was a closer and having runners on base like that, I come into situations like that all the time and I can get out of them,” Williams said.
“I just think to myself, ‘she can’t score unless the next girl hits.’ So I just stay focused on the batter and not really worry about who is on third base or whatever base they are on,” she said.
The Tigers got on the board first in the fifth inning on a close slide by Alesia Azevedo.That then gave the Tigers momentum through which the Tigers scored two more runs in the sixth inning to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead that would eventually give them their first win of the series.
“Pretty much it’s the playoffs, you have to go all out and not have any regrets,” Azevedo said.
“I was on third base so I was just waiting for them to make a mistake and capitalize on it. So I went and I was safe,” she said. “That’s what I think got the momentum up too, with everybody starting to hit, that’s how we won that game.”
With a 1-0 lead in the series, the Tigers were looking to put the series away as soon as possible, said coach Michelle Daddona-Moya.
The Tigers put up another great defensive performance in Game 2 as they grabbed hold of ground balls and caught fly balls like it was practice.
During the fifth inning, the Tigers all-star Jackie Serna made a spectacular diving catch that prevented Palomar from scoring. This would eventually backfire on them as the catch led to a costly mistake when Serna threw wildly to second base trying to get a runner out.
As coach Daddona-Moya put it, it was a lack of communication by the women, the runner who was coming back to tag the bag before getting thrown out for the double play ended up scoring the only run that gave Palomar it’s only run that would be enough to make Game 3 exist.
“I wasn’t really sure after I caught the ball, I was just trying to hurry up and get it and I really didn’t see where the runner was,” Serna said.
“I was pretty upset with myself after that because after they scored, but there was really nothing I could do. I tried my best,” she said.
As Palomar evened the series up at 1-1 the Tigers were given a 20 minute break before beginning the third and final game to see who would face the winner of the Fullerton and Moorpark series.
Serna is a player who can come into a game and change the game around said by coach Maddona. Serna finished three-for-three, hitting three singles and getting a intentional walk in game three.
“I was just thinking it was just a very important game because if we would of lost then our season was over so I was just trying to stay focused,” Serna said.
“The pitcher who was pitching, pitched on the two previous games so I already knew what she was going to pitch. So, I just stayed focused and did what I had to do,” she said.
The Tigers had nine hits including Serna’s three but managed to bring in one run. Daddona-Moya was sure that leaving players on base wasn’t something to worry about since she knows the defensive could come through for her at any given time.
In the second inning, Tigers runner Corey Williams’ slid into second base on what was a close call, as Palomar’s head coach went out to dispute.
“Yeah, I thought she was safe watching the play, I thought she got in there before the tag. I definitely think that was the right call,” said Daddona-Moya.
As Fullerton won its playoff series against Moorpark this past weekend, it set up a what-is-to-be great series as both teams seem to be evenly matched up.
“I think we will do well against them, we already know what to expect,” Serna said.
“Since its playoffs, I think we will take it more seriously and I think we will be able to handle them,” she said.
“They just have to be hungry for it, as for as the situation, we came really close,” said Azevedo. “I think we can actually beat them so we just have to stay focused and work hard.”
“Well, I think we definitely have a good chance of beating them, we lost the other two games, they were really close games, but they are not going to blow us out of the water,” said Williams.
“I just think that if we play our game, just play defense, we’ve already seen the pitcher that is going to pitch, actually we’ve seen both pitchers and most likely they are going to pitch the faster girl and I think we will handle her, we’ve seen her so we will be OK,” she said.
“We have our sights set on getting to be in that state title tournament and winning,” coach Doddona-Moya said.
“We want to get there, yes, but we want to go and win and not just go and compete,” she said.
“We did beat Fullerton one time, then lost twice by one run, but I never really felt that they beat us, I felt like in both those times we lost by one run that we really beat ourselves,” said coach Daddona-Moya.
“I really like our chances and I think if we come with that right state of mind and stay aggressive and do things that we do I think we will be OK,” she said.
“I think we are in the best position to be to qualify for the finals that we could be in, you couldn’t ask for a better position,” she said.
With all the momentum, all the games they played in the regular season and a preparation playoff series from Palomar, the Tigers believe they can go into Fullerton, take two games and win the series. Thats only one more step on the way to the state championships.
The team has the chance and feels excited that they are on the verge of making history by being the first RCC fastpitch team to make it to the state championship playoffs rounds.