Offense Stalls In SCC Losses To El Camino, Mt. SAC

Kaylee Medrano drops a bunt during PCC's loss at Mt. San Antonio on Thursday, photo by Richard Quinton.
Kaylee Medrano drops a bunt during PCC's loss at Mt. San Antonio on Thursday, photo by Richard Quinton.

While Pasadena City College's pitching has been a brightspot all season, the Lancers softball team's hitting has seen some ups and downs. In the last two days, the Lancers mustered just one run combined in losing to last year's South Coast Conference North Division and South Division champions--Mt. San Antonio and El Camino.

On Friday at Robinson Park, PCC managed to reach base 14 times, but only one crossed the plate in a 3-1 loss to El Camino. On Thursday, Samantha Diaz broke up a no-hitter with two outs in the sixth inning for the lone highlight as the Lancers were 1-hit by Mt. SAC's Briana Wheeler in a 2-0 road defeat. Pasadena is 8-6 overall and now 5-3 in SCC games. 

Against El Camino (9-3, 7-1), Diaz roped a double to left-center in the first inning and scored when leftfielder Nathalia Velasquez hit a hard hopper for an infield hit that Warriors' first baseman Jocelyn Hernandez made a diving stop on, but then lost the ball for an error on her subsequent glove-stab reach for the first base bag. While PCC continually put runners on base v. El Camino pitcher Elizabeth Cortez, the righty worked her way out of jams. Her infield defense turned inning-ending double plays in both the first and fourth innings. In the sixth tied 1-1, PCC had its best chance to take the lead. The Lancers loaded the bases with one out, but Cortez got Alise Allen to pop up to second and the solid-hitting Diaz to ground out sharply for an unassisted fielder's choice at third to end the threat.

The Lancers defense struggled with five errors, two leading to the Warriors' go-ahead runs in the top of the seventh. Austyn Helmuth (3-3), who pitched a complete-game effort, allowing only six hits and struck out five, appeared to get out of situation with a runner on third and two outs as she got dangerous El Camino leadoff hitter Diamond Lewis to hit a routine fly to left center. But a miscommunication between Velasquez and centerfielder Gabi Perez resulted with Perez dropping the ball for an error and an El Camino 2-1 lead. Lewis then stole third and scored when another miscommunication occurred when no infielder covered the bag on catcher Jennie Chacon's throw. 

While the defense faltered, it did have some big plays that kept the score close. Velasquez made a perfect one-hop throw to the plate to Chacon for a 7-2 double play that kept a run from scoring in the first. With it tied 1-1 in the sixth, ECC had a runner on second when Alena De La Torre lined a ball up the middle that PCC shortstop Kaylee Medrano made a diving play that kept the ball from reaching medium outfield. Reserve second baseman Danielle Ruiz made a heads up play backing up Medrano as she picked up the ball behind the bag and gunned out Cortez at home plate on another strong tag by Chacon. 

PCC's offense was led by Velasquez, who batted 3-for-4, and Diaz, who was 2-for-4. 

In the Mt. SAC loss, frosh lefty Vivian Little gave up just one earned run and six hits over 4.1 innings against the hard-hitting Mounties but took her first loss at 5-1. Helmuth, who has been on a roll in her last several appearances, pitched 1-2/3 innings of shutout relief. The freshman has appeared in 12 of the team's 14 games and has a sparkling 1.47 ERA in 43 innings. PCC's team ERA dropped to 2.31 despite the back-to-back losses. 

The Lancers next host Los Angeles Harbor College on Tuesday, Mar. 5 in a 2:30 p.m. conference game at Robinson Park.