Fastpitch fights until the end

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By Sean Egle / Staff Writer

Fighting chance (Allison Perez / Photo Editor)

By Sean Egle / Staff Writer

The fastpitch team at Riverside City College had its best finish in the program’s history, coming in third place at the double elimination California Community College Athletic Association state championship tournament in Bakersfield. 

The Tigers of RCC, who entered the tournament as the No. 2 team in the South, were knocked out of the tournament by the No. 1 team in Southern California, Cypress College 7-0 in Game 5 on May 19.

The Cypress Chargers, an Orange Empire Conference rival of the Tigers, eventually went on to win the CCCAA state championship, after having to go to a Game 7 with College of the Siskiyous.

Michelle Daddona, RCC’s fastpitch coach said, “I think it shows how strong our conference is with only two teams representing Southern California, both teams came out of the same conference.”

The Tigers team opened the tournament against Siskiyous in Game 1, but it fell short losing 5-4 on May 18.

The following day, the Tigers played the No. 2 team in the North, Sierra College, in Game 3 on May 19; with the winner advancing and the loser being completely eliminated from the tournament.

Daddona mentioned some of the adjustments the team made in between their first two games.

“One adjustment we made was just going back to our mentality, we are going to be aggressive, we are going to swing, and we are not just going to feel for it. We are going to take aggressive swings,” Daddona said.

She also mentions the team’s defensive adjustments between the first two games.

“When we are playing on defense, we are going to be aggressive and go for the ball, we are not going to doubt ourselves,” She said. “When we are on the bases, we are going to take aggressive leads.”

The Tigers defeated Sierra 12-0 in Game 3 of the tournament. The victory eliminated Sierra, putting the team in fourth place.

The Tigers advanced to keep their title run alive against the loser of the Game 4, between Siskiyous and Cypress.

Cypress, who had its first loss of the tournament, became the Tigers next opponent for Game 5. It was the Tigers’ second opponent of the day, with the loser being eliminated.

The Chargers and Tigers met during the regular season for three games. Cypress won the season series two games to one.

“I really didn’t feel like they were different; I think until it was the fourth inning it was a zero to zero battle,” Daddona said. “We had some things happen to where (Cypress) put up some runs; I think that inning was a momentum changer.”

The loss to the defending champion Chargers in Game 5, gave the RCC team its second loss of the tournament and ending their state title run.

“Sometimes when you want it so much or there is an opponent you want to beat so bad that it does take you out of your element, so you do not do the things you normally do,” Daddona added. “I like being here and knowing you are playing the best teams, day in and day out, it does prepare you better than some of those other conferences.”

The RCC fastpitch team moved on to the 2012 state championship after defeating Saddleback College and College of the Canyons.

RCC went into the competition as the No. 4 seed and was drawn with the No. 5 seed Saddleback College for the first game of the competition on Friday, May 11.

RCC had won two of the previous three meetings with Saddleback this year.

Coach Jose Ortega was pleased with the progress the team had made and reflected on the recent achievements.

“Right now we’re playing well. This is our sixth consecutive year of reaching this goal and now we’re looking to move on to state” he said.

Chelsea Crawley, RCC freshman first baseman, was one of many standout players on the day scoring two runs and getting four runs-batted-in.

RCC defeated Saddleback 12-4; the game was ended by the run rule after five and one-half innings.

The Tigers then faced Southwestern the following day, and a win would put them just one win away from reaching the state finals; something that has only been done on one previous occasion.

RCC advanced to the next round by eliminating Southwestern 5-2.

RCC’s short stop Natalie Barrios brought in a RBI and scored two runs, one of which she stole home.

RCC pitcher Nichole Zink allowed just 10 hits from Saddleback’s 30 at-bats.

Zink leading the conference with 124 strikeouts and 14 wins. “As I go on, I get stronger throughout. I feel like I do well under pressure,” she said.

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