After securing a playoff berth, the No. 10 Citrus College softball team could not keep up with No. 7 Cerritos College in the first round, losing 14-4 on May 5 and 9-1 on May 6 at Cerritos College in the Southern California Regional Playoffs.
The teams last met each other on Feb. 3, 3016 in a non-conference game where the Falcons defeated the Owls 6-4 at Cerritos.
After missing the playoffs last season, the Owls improved to 24-16 this season, including 13-5 in the Western State Conference.
The Falcons won round one of the playoffs last season, beating Southwestern twice before falling short in the Super Regional Playoffs to Cypress and Palomar.
In the first game of the series, Cerritos made quick work of Citrus, defeating the Owls 14-4 in five innings. The Falcons, having the home advantage, managed to score in every inning, with four runs in the first and second innings and three runs in the third and fourth innings.
The Owls did not get on the scoreboard until freshmen Mia Escobar and Valerie Ortiz scored in the top of the third, but it was not enough to stop the Falcons’ offense.
Freshman Molly Montel, who scored in the top of the fourth, said in an Instagram message that everything was challenging for the Owls in the first playoff game at Cerritos.
“We were pretty rocky from the start,” Montel said. “We weren’t backing up our pitchers who were doing their jobs and we didn’t have our strong offense like we usually do.”
Montel said after the first loss that she and her teammates were going to re-evaluate their performance before playing again the next day..
“We are going to focus on making the routine plays on defense and backing up our pitcher,” Montel said. “On offense, we need to work on focusing small on the ball and not trying to hit the ball out of the yard. We just need to hit hard base hits, line drives and get the timely hits when we need them.”
It was not enough for Citrus to tie the series, losing the second game to Cerritos, 9-1. Montel had the first and only run of the game in the top of the second for the Owls before the Falcons took over.
Sophomore Jade Nua said in an Instagram message that head coach Jackie Boxley reminded the team after their being eliminated that they had an amazing season.
“Even though it was really emotional, she told us to keep our heads up,” Nua said. “Those two games weren’t our whole season. We did really good all season and we fought hard till the end.”
In the second game, the Falcons scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning to pull ahead from the Owls.
Nua reflected on the season, her last, being a sophomore.
“Our performance this year was amazing,” Nua said. “I thought we worked really hard and came together as a team and did really well. Every team has there ups and downs but we didn’t let it get to us. We pushed through and worked hard for it. I feel like we earned second place this year. All our hard work payed off this season even though we didn’t do go far in playoffs, we still did really good. I couldn’t have asked for a better sophomore year.”
With nine freshmen on the team, the Owls will have a bigger returning sophomore roster next season than this last season with only three returning sophomores.