Softball prepares for playoffs

Sophomore pitcher Jessica Lozano looks to lead the Cerritos College softball team to a win when it hosts a first round, best-of-three series in the South Conference Regional Playoffs against Bakersfield College at the Nancy Kelly Field on Saturday.

The Falcons finished No. 2 in the South Coast Conference after losing to Mount San Antonio College in a 9-0 game.

Cerritos (30-9), who defeated the Renegades (26-14) in a double-header earlier this season at Bakersfield College, was seeded No. 4 this season in the South Coast Conference Regional Playoffs, while Bakersfield College was seeded No. 13.

Head coach Kodee Murray said, “For a young team like we have, I think nerves are the key to playoffs, not being able to really understanding what the playoffs are, and playing in a big game against seasoned sophomores is difficult.”

The Falcons lost last season to Mt. SAC in a 6-5 game in the South Coast Semi Finals making them ineligible to run for the state title.

“Truly coming into this series and being ready to play hard and giving themselves the ability to step on the field and just play the game, they are very successful this season already, they just have to continue with what they are doing,” Murray said.

Bakersfield is the Western State Conference Blue Division champion, and its starting pitcher, Julie Estep, received the Pitcher of the Year award for WSC.

“Our team right now is  15 players that are united as one. They work together, they don’t have a lot of petty stuff that can usually break teams up, they come out and they want to win. When you have a team like that, it can accomplish a lot,” Murray said.

Freshman shortstop Brianna Quintana believes that having the home-field advantage over the Renegades is really important because they are able to be more comfortable since they practice and are familiar with the field.

Lozano, who is 15-2 in conference, was awarded the Pitcher of the Year award for South Coast Conference.

“Jessica has done a great job, in her freshman year; she didn’t get to throw very many innings, but she has stepped up this year and has done a phenomenal job,” Murray said.

Freshmen catcher Jessica Roper, shortstop Brianna Quintana and sophomore outfielder Shawnee Kirk, were named to the first team, while freshman outfielder Courtney Priddie was named second team in SCC.

“We’re the underdogs right now, people aren’t really thinking much of us since we lost,” Roper said. “But we’re coming into this with a whole new mindset and we’re just excited and ready.

 “It really is a big honor, we come out here and play for our team; it’s nice to be recognized by someone other than your coach and teammates,” Roper said.

Quintana batted .472 and had 29 RBIs, while Roper batted .471 with 20 RBIs and Kirk batted .438 with 12 RBIs.

As for Priddie, she hit .460 with two home runs and 14, RBIs.

“I really wasn’t expecting it, but I’m very proud of myself and my goal for next year is to get first team, and break all my personal records that I have right now,” Priddle said. “The key to playoffs is just doing what we do when we win games and just coming out stronger.”

Lozano is expected to be the starting pitcher on Saturday.