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Fastpitch advances to second round

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By Javier Cabrera / Sports Editor

By Javier Cabrera / Sports Editor

One piece of gum determined the result of the Riverside City College fastpitch first round three game series against Los Angeles Harbor on May 1.


Jackie Serna, the Orange Empire Conference MVP and a selection to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American team, walked up to home plate in the eighth inning and followed through with a walk off two run home run, giving her team the 1-0 lead in the series.


“I have been struggling a little bit, and coach Sara (Kammert) gave me a piece of gum to calm me down,” Serna said. “So I got a new piece of gum and went up there.”


“She was trying to quick pitch me and it was really irritating me, so the next time I knew (the ball) was going to be right there and I was going to swing and it went,” she said.


The game had a fast pace as the first five innings were completed in an hour, because both teams were unable to reach past the infielders of either team.


The series featured two balanced teams that had nearly identical regular season offense and defense percentages, and in result, it set up the spectacular ending.


On the mound for the game was starting pitcher, Tracy Hampton, who completed her sixth shutout game of the season. She struck out seven and allowed three hits with no walks.


“I called that,” Hampton said commenting on Serna’s walk off home run. “To end the game like that, it’s just great; it gets the team’s motivation going for the following game.”


The late heroic home run by Serna turned out to be the turning point in the series, because the RCC Tigers came out looking to finish off Los Angeles Harbor the next day in Game 2.


The team picked up three first inning runs, lead by a single and two doubles by Stephanie Szweb, Serna and Olivia Wilcox, to give the Tigers the early edge and dominance throughout the game.


Riverside’s other starting pitcher Reylene Coronado, picked up where Hampton left off the night before, and pitched six and one-third strong innings, allowing six hits and one solo home run.


A scare came late in the seventh inning for RCC with Los Angeles Harbor down to its last outs of its season and players in scoring position.


Without taking a chance to give up the Tigers’ 5-1 lead, coach Michelle Daddona brought in Hampton to close out the seventh inning and help secure a second round playoff series.


“One thing lead to another, but it was all right because Tracy (Hampton) came in and she did her work,” Coronado said.


Daddona said she believed the team did very well in the series; they made a lot of tough plays and managed to record no errors.


“It was a really good series, they were evenly matched with us,” she said. “You want something like that for round one, even though it makes it tougher to go on, but I think its good preparation for the next round.”


The team now heads into Cypress College on May 7 and will compete in a four team, double elimination playoff along with No. 3 East Los Angeles, No. 6 Saddleback College and No. 2 Cypress College for a chance to make the state finals on May 14.

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