RCC reaches midseason stride

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By Javier Cabrera / Sports Editor

Slide show- Riverside City College’s Jackie Serna (left) slides into third base and beats Orange Coast’s Kursten Evanski to the punch and is called safe in a 9-3 victory on March 19. (Brandon Rivera / Editor’s Assistant)

By Javier Cabrera / Sports Editor

The Riverside City College Fastpitch team hit the field on Mar. 19 to improve its conference record against a straggling Orange Coast softball team.

The Orange Coast fastpitch team stumbled into Evens Sports Complex with a conference record of 1-10 and was not looking forward to Riverside handing them its eleventh straight conference loss.

Prior to the game on Mar. 19, RCC was coming off back-to-back wins against Fullerton College and Golden West College, and winning 11 of its last 13 games after a abysmal start.

Riverside’s own Reylene Cornado started the game by giving up three runs on four hits and lasted only 0.1 innings before coach Michelle Daddona turned the ball over to Tracy Hampton with one out in the first inning.

“We are at a point where we can’t give away any games, so we had to just make a change and give the umpire a different look at someone and see what was going to happen,” Daddona said.

The game took a pause in the bottom of the first inning after a miscommunication substitution on behalf of Orange Coast that resulted in an hour standoff between the two coaches and umpires.

Daddona explained after the game that Orange Coast had a pinch runner who was placed in the infield but was not confirmed with the umpires of the change. Therefore, since the illegal substitute was involved in the final out of the first inning, RCC was able to reverse the out to replay the play.

Through the dispute and replaying the play, Riverside managed to take full advantage and tie up the game at three before recording the official final out of the first inning.

Hampton took full control on the mound after the first inning and held Orange Coast to no runs on seven hits as her teammates batted in six more runs to win the game 9-3.

“I thought she threw well,” Daddona said about Hampton’s pitching performance, who had been bothered by a bad hip prior to the game.

“I thought she did a good job with making adjustments with her game,” she said.

After the Orange Coast victory, the team traveled up to Bakersfield City College for a weekend tournament to play Pasadena City College, Santa Barbara City College, Mission College and Bakersfield College.

“The nonconference games are really important because it all has to do with your strength of schedule and your overall record, because it all factors into the playoffs,” Daddona said. “We have to go out this year as every game is our last game because we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

In day one of the tournament, Riverside defeated Bakersfield College 8-0, and Mission College 10-1. In day two of the tournament, Riverside defeated Santa Barbara City College 8-2 and Pasadena City College 11-2.

“In the tournaments we have more games so you try to get everyone in and try to keep people happy,” Daddona said about playing in season tournaments.

Thus far, the fastpitch team has had a pleasing season, going 17-9 overall and 7-3 in conference with 13 games left in its season.

The team started off on the wrong leg, going 2-7 in its first nine games but won seven straight after to make up the early losses.

Daddona said the rough start was the result of what had happen to the team during the offseason.

Former RCC fastpitch pitcher Afton Williamson passed away last November along with two new teammates from Dickinson State University after their car drove into a pond, drowning all three.

“We knew going in (the season) it was going to be hard for us; going through everything we went through in the offseason with the loss of (Williamson), so we knew it wasn’t going to be a easy year,” Daddona said.

With the loss of Williams, the team did not have a full preseason.

“We started off a little slow but I also think we didn’t have a true offseason like we normally do,” Daddona said. “It really hit us hard, she was a sister to them and she was a daughter for me, and it was really hard to come out here. When the season started officially, it was still hard to come out here.”

Daddona concluded that no matter what happens, every season has its ups and downs.

This year’s team is made with half of the team being the returning cast from last year’s team, that made it to the state finals, and the other half being freshmen.

“They have done a good job of being leaders and the freshmen have done a good job of being leaders,” Daddona said. “It takes everyone to be successful.”

Last year the team made the championship finals as one of four teams from the south, this year, only two teams from the southern region advance.

“The girls who were here last year got the taste of the championships and want to get back to that,” Daddona said. “I think that message is clear to the new comers that … that’s our goal, our mission and we are going to do whatever it takes to accomplish that.”

Swing for the fences- RCC Tigers’ Shelly Vanderwall swings hard to get a base hit and advance teammates on bases on March 19. (Brandon Rivera / Editor’s Assistant)

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