Softball’s Satisfying Season

Dave Aguilera/Mt. SAC Athletics

Dave Aguilera/Mt. SAC Athletics

The Mt. SAC softball team had a very impressive season.

They were absolutely dominant in the beginning, as they jumped out to a 20-0 start. After going through a tough stretch — losing three out of five games — they rattled off a 13-game winning streak to end the regular season.

They seemed to have all the ingredients of a great team: great pitching, hitting, defense, and speed.

Notable standout players were starting pitcher Tiffany Kennedy-Cummings, who finished the season with a 18-3 record that included three saves, 145 strikeouts and a 1.19 ERA.  Racqual Espinoza, also a starting pitcher, recorded 16 wins and one loss with one save, 133 strikeouts and a 2.17 ERA. Espinoza also hit .417 with four home runs and 23 RBIs.

Shortstop Kayla Sok hit for a .364 average with nine home runs, 36 RBIs and 38 steals. The team’s starting catcher Taylor Jaurique was the best hitter on the team this season with an outstanding .465 average, 14 home runs and 51 RBIs.

In the playoffs, the Mounties got out to a great start, winning both games in the first round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs against Ventura College. In the Southern California Super Regional Playoffs, they defeated Cerritos, 6-1, and El Camino, 9-5, to advance to the championship game against Antelope Valley College.

Trailing 4-2 in the fifth inning against Antelope Valley, Aleyah Wilbon singled home a run. Jaurique would tie it up with a solo home run in the next inning. The Mounties would then take a two-run lead with the help of an error and wild pitch.  Kristen Williams and Jaurique would give them insurance in the seventh with a pair of sacrifice flies, and they went on to win, 8-4, to advance to the California Community College Athletics Association State Championships in Bakersfield.

In game one of the State Championship tournament against San Mateo, Mt. SAC was once again trailing in the fifth, this time by a score of 2-1. An RBI single off the bat of Toni Mendoza tied it in the fifth, and Miranda Larios’s RBI single in the sixth put them up 3-2. Kennedy-Cummings would hold on for the win.

In the first game of a Saturday doubleheader, the Mounties went up against undefeated Cypress College and were unable to hold onto their early 2-0 lead, ultimately falling 6-4. This set up a rematch with San Mateo wherein the winner would go onto the championship game on Sunday.

With the help of Jaurique’s solo homer in the first and Bree Maikai’s three-run home run in the third, the Mounties were able to cruise to a 9-2 victory and head to the championship game.

At 42-4 on the season, Mt. SAC was looking for a record five state championships. It would be their first since 2009 and their first under head coach Ruby Rojas. At a perfect 47-0, Cypress was looking to become the first CCCAA team to go undefeated.

Both teams rolled out their aces, with Kennedy-Cummings getting the call for the Mounties and Destiny Vasquez, who herself was a perfect 28-0 on the season, on the mound for the Chargers. Both pitchers were on their games, with Vasquez giving up only three hits and two walks while striking out five and giving up no runs through seven.

Kennedy-Cummings was even better, allowing only one hit, one walk and two hits through six innings. With one out in the seventh inning, she surrendered her second hit to Emma Walker.

After walking Vasquez, Cypress had runners on first and second base as Val Romano stepped to the plate. She grounded out to Jaurique, but Walker just kept running all the way home from second, as nobody covered home for the Mounties.

Cypress stole the base and the game, walking off with a win in the State Championship at a perfect 48-0 record. In an absolutely heartbreaking loss for Mt. SAC, they had nothing to be ashamed of. They pushed perhaps the only team better than them to the limit all the way to the final inning and last batter.

Mt. SAC had five players — Kennedy-Cummings, Espinoza, Jaurique, Sok, and Mendoza — named to the CCCAA All-State team.  Even though they were not able to finish on top, the Mounties certainly gave had an amazing season and were a great team.