The Orange Coast College softball team made its first appearance in the playoffs for the first time since 1994, years before any current players on the team were even born.
Squaring off against the 17th seeded Cerritos College Falcons, the injury-plagued Pirates put up a fight but came up short in the end, losing 11-2 in five innings in the play-in round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs.
Entering the game Tuesday with a groin injury, sophomore pitcher Jordyn East displayed grit and control, playing as if she was completely healthy. Over 4.2 innings, East consistently painted the corners of the plate but the home plate umpire forced the Pirate pitcher into many deep counts.
“I haven’t pitched in a while and when Coach Jodie told me I was getting the ball today I was really excited,” East said. “It was a tight zone today and he wasn’t helping me at all so I had to help myself out.”
The Falcons capitalized on a pitching change that took out East and brought in sophomore Sarah Ramirez.
As a result, the Pirates fell apart. The never-ending inning included three errors and eight runs, only one of them earned, coming across in favor of the Falcons, solidifying the Cerritos mercy-rule victory.
The Pirates’ bats weren’t as hot as their opposition, getting out-hit by Cerritos College nine to four on the day.
Falcon outfielder Victoria Medina launched a two-run missile over dead center in the third inning giving the Falcons some momentum on the game.
That momentum quickly walked the plank in the bottom of the third inning.
The Pirates showed the same tenacity they have shown over the course of the season, rallying back with a pair of runs in the inning courtesy of a groundout RBI by sophomore leftfielder Jessica Scotty and an RBI single by sophomore catcher Madison Taylor.
Since head coach Jodie Legaspi-Kiaha took over the program in 2014, the team has been constantly making improvements season by season.
The Pirates started off hot posting an 11-1 record including wins against Orange Empire Conference top-dogs Riverside City College and Santiago Canyon College earning them a place in the state top-20 rankings.
“I slotted our team to play the best of the best this year and we did great,” Legaspi-Kiaha said. “Our girls were totally up for taking on the best of the best this season.”
Coming into the game, the Pirates were ranked as the No. 16seed, and finished the season with a .283 team batting average.
In spite of the loss, the team’s spirits remained high as the program celebrated overcoming a season of losing key players to injuries.
“As much as we love to win, we are here to get people to transfer. I am so proud of Jordyn and the team today,” Legaspi-Kiaha said. “We weren’t the same team after our injuries but we evolved so much as a team from picking up the slack, we’ll be back next year.”
Earning respect of the softball community, Coast’s 20 wins is just the floor for the future.