The College of the Canyons softball team advanced to the final day of the Super Regionals after eliminating Saddleback 9-3 and Southwestern 10-9 on Saturday.
After being upset by No. 8 Southwestern (28-14) in game one of the Super Regionals on Friday the No. 1 Cougars (41-4-1) got redemption against the Jaguars in a nail biter late Saturday afternoon.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, sophomore Caitlyn Zimmerman drove in sophomore Shay Romero for the go-ahead run on an RBI triple.
The wild game started in the home half of the first inning when sophomore Amy Droege hit a two run double to give the Cougars the early 2-0 lead. Droege went three for four with a single, a double, a triple, and two RBIs.
Once again the Cougars’ pitching staff could not keep the Jaguars bats quiet as they scored two runs in the second and two in the third to take a 4-2 lead.
The Cougars had an answer of their own in their half of the third when freshman Kimmie Lockhart launched a three-run homerun onto the football field, giving COC the 5-4 lead after three innings. Head coach John Wissmath was proud of his freshman pitcher who got the job done at the plate on Saturday even though she wasn’t in the circle.
“She knew that she struggled that first go around pitching wise,” Wissmath said. “But she did not give up at the plate, her three-run shot was huge and it put us in the lead and we never looked back.”
After keeping Southwestern scoreless in the top of the fourth, COC added another run in the bottom of the fourth behind a solo homerun by sophomore shortstop Ruby Herrera. Herrera’s homerun was only the beginning of the scoring for the Cougars in the fourth, as Romero had an RBI single and freshman Heidi Hinklin drove in two to give the Cougars a 9-4 lead heading into the fifth inning.
Once again the Jaguars got their bats going by scoring 4 runs in the top of the fifth to cut COC’s lead down to one after five innings.
Southwestern knotted the game up at 9 apiece in the sixth inning on a solo homerun by freshman Tamara Belilove. But the Cougars prevailed after Zimmerman tripled in the winning run in the bottom of the sixth. Zimmerman went three for three with two singles, a triple, an RBI and a stolen base.
This nail biter was only possible because the Cougars defeated No. 5 Saddleback College (30-13) earlier Saturday afternoon 9-3, while facing elimination in the second game of the Super Regionals.
The game was scoreless in the third inning until freshman catcher Adrianna Correa hit a three-run homerun to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead. It was Correa’s fourth homerun of the postseason and 21st homerun of the season. Correa went three for four with six RBIs and two runs scored against Saddleback.
Romero, Lockhart, Jenny Wunderlich and Correa each drove in a run in the fifth to increase COC’s lead to 7-2. Correa added a two-run double in the sixth to give COC a six run lead. While Correa provided a spark in the COC lineup she gave credit to the entire team for the offensive production they displayed.
“I think we all hit great,” Correa said. “I think I provided a spark but everyone else wanted to hit after me in order to keep the spark going.”
Southwestern didn’t allow Correa to burn them by walking her three times on Friday but as Wissmath says Saddleback didn’t get the memo from the Jaguars.
“They didn’t get that memo,” he said. “If you pitch to her (Correa) in the right spot she’s going to drive it, so you better make sure you are throwing them outside or you’re smart like they (Southwestern) were by putting her on.”
Sophomore pitcher Alicia Paiz pitched all 14 innings on the day for COC giving up three earned runs on eight hits during seven innings in the circle against Saddleback.
“I’m just glad that I get to be apart of this team right now,” Paiz said after her long day. “To be apart of this is amazing, I love my team and I love the game.”
Lockhart will be in the circle for COC Sunday and she says she can’t think about the importance of the game
“Tomorrow is big,” Lockhart said. “I’m just going to go in there thinking about throwing strikes and not think anything of it. I have to stay calm and throw strikes.”
COC will now face Riverside College on Sunday starting at noon. The Cougars need two wins on Sunday in order to make it the final four in Bakersfield May 18-20.