Mercy-ful beginning

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Will the Owls’ softball team go undefeated? Probably not. But they can enjoy the feeling for a few days after freshman catcher Kawehi Ephan sent the Pasadena City College Lancers (3-5) home early Feb. 1, when her monster bomb over the left-field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning gave Citrus (1-0) a 13-5 mercy-rule victory.


“It probably would’ve left Dodger Stadium,” said Owls head coach Jackie Boxley, who threw her hands up in celebration as soon as Ephan’s shot started its journey into the setting sun.


The result was about as good as the Owls could hope for.


In 2012, the Citrus College softball team managed to make it to the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association playoffs, where they came within a game of defeating the Riverside Community College Tigers.


That Owls team was a more defensively oriented squad, as the pitching duo of Devin Dean and Carissa Bender gave the team the second-best scoring defense in the Western State Conference. This year, Dean and her 167 strikeouts—good enough for second-best in Citrus history—are gone due to academic ineligibility.


So if the opener was any indication, the 2013 version of the Owls plans on earning wins on the other side of the plate. They’re off to a scorching start, as they hammered Lancers pitchers Melissa Izumida and Cierra Newton for 11 runs in the first two innings. And though Ephan was the one who left the Owl faithful buzzing thanks to her 4-for-4 day, returning All-American center fielder Angela Aguinaga will be starting her season with a .500 batting average after she finished 1-for-2.


“We knew coming in that we could hit pretty good this year. We also knew that our pitching might take some lumps,” Boxley said. “If we can put up this many runs, we’ll be OK.”


It was a tough loss for the Lancers, who had hopes of leaving Glendora with a 4-4 record. Pasadena led when third baseman Katelyn Tordasrson scored catcher Jazmin Hernandez on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first inning, but a passed ball by Hernandez on the other side of the plate helped Citrus put together a four-run response in the bottom of the inning—three of which were of the unearned variety.


“We were down early, and we could’ve come all the way back because there was a lot of game [left],” said PCC head coach Brittany Williams. “I think a couple of our hitters may have been a little overanxious and swung at pitches they shouldn’t have swung at, don’t normally swing at.”


Williams also pointed out that when the Lancers were able to get the ball in play, her players had a tough time getting around third baseman Bre Lockett.  Lockett was the team’s best defensive player last year and showed no signs of relinquishing the title, with the exception of an error in the top of the third inning.


“Defensively, I felt pretty solid. There were just a few things that I wished I was a little quicker on,” said Lockett, who also finished 2-for-4 from the plate. “That one bobble killed me. It kind of made me angry.”


Next up for Citrus is a Feb. 6 doubleheader against the Golden West Rustlers (1-1) and the San Diego Mesa Olympians (1-0). For Lockett, the wins are just a means to an end.


“We were so close last year, and I feel like we have what’s necessary now,” she said. “State would be amazing. I want a ring.”