By Tausifur Osmani
The Riverside City College softball team conceded their second home loss in a row with a 7-5 late game thriller to Santiago Canyon College on April 20 at the Samuel C. Evans Sports Complex.
Despite a late game rally, the Tiger’s early scoring woes and defensive errors caused by miscommunication ended up serving as their detriment in the long haul.
Dadonna realizes the potential of her team and further discussed the importance of team effort.
“We don’t bring our best,” she said. “I felt like we were functioning maybe at 30 to 40 percent…had we brought our A-game, I think the results could have been much different.”
With the loss, RCC fell to 14-21 on the season and 5-16 in Orange Empire Conference play and currently sit as the sixth seed on the bottom half of the OEC standings.
The game had a shaky start as RCC found themselves in a hole early when freshman starting pitcher Laura Mendez gave up a two run shot to SCC’s first baseman Emili Olague in the top of the first inning to set the score at 2-0 in favor of SCC.
However, sophomore catcher Hunter LaCroix countered with her own two run homer at the bottom of the first to set the score level at 2-2.
The score would continue to shift in favor of SCC as they reeled in two more runs in the top of the second inning off a triple and a sac fly.
As the game approached the third inning the Tigers became their own worst enemy by conceding a flurry of unearned runs.
The most notable error occurred in the third inning when SCC’s Kaitlynn Lanksbury was caught between third and home, but the attempted trap between the bags failed when pitcher Laura Mendez made an error by throwing the ball to third baseman Jenna Shay, who was not anticipating a throw and therefore bobbled the pass which allowed Lanksbury and two other runners to cash in on the error and extend the deficit to 7-2 heading into the fourth inning.
Dadonna said that communication is the key component to the Tiger’s success and that offensively the team needs to continue to work the count. When players see their pitches, they usually have the desired results, instead of hacking at every first pitch.
Defensively there are no technical or physical disparities, just a lack of team communication that leads to errors.
LaCroix emphasized this point by referring to the third inning blunder.
“It was kind of frustrating, three runs came in on that,” LaCroix said. “If we didn’t have that three run score we know what the score would have been.”
RCC was able to get the gears to mesh onward from the error by holding SCC scoreless for the rest of the game by capitalizing on errors made by the Hawks in the fourth and sixth inning.
Danielle Lopez was able to score in fourth thanks to a bobbled throw by the opposing second baseman who couldn’t gather enough time to get a throw into home plate.
Lopez continued to carry the Tigers by getting on base once again in the bottom of the sixth inning and reaping the reward of a wild pitch that gave her the green light to score as set the game at 7-4 approaching the last inning.
The bottom of the seventh inning featured Elise Ramirez who capitalized on a hit that blooped into right center field. Laura Mendez stepped up to the plate after four straight shutout innings on the mound and registered a key offensive contribution by grounding out to the SCC shortstop, but picking up an RBI in the process to score Ramirez and shorten the deficit to a mere two run game by capping off a 7-5 final score in favor of the Santiago Canyon Eagles.
The team has since realized their flaws and are working to become more united. This principle is echoed by Tiger’s infielder Dani Melendez who echoed the importance of team unity.
“Our main thing is working as a team,” she said. “Before you can do or achieve anything, you have to come together as a team and that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
RCC have gone 1-8 in their last nine games and the obvious frustrations have been recognized by Tiger’s head coach Michelle Dadonna who elaborated on the main difficulty of the team.
“We have to take each game and play each game as if it were our last,” Daddona said.