BY BRANDON GUIJARRO
With only less than a month left in the regular season, the Cypress College Softball team has begun to have their sights set on the playoffs. This team filled with talent is poised to make a deep run after not being given the opportunity last year due to COVID-19.
The Chargers currently sit tied for second place in the Orange Empire Conference with a 23-7 record, which will put them in a position to host the first round of the playoffs starting on May 6th.
“Our mindset [for the playoffs] is to make sure we play like we did against Santa Ana last time we played,” said Head Coach Brad Pickler. “We didn’t make any errors, we put the ball in play, we hit the ball hard, we just played well. If we do that in the playoffs, we’ll be tough to beat,” said Pickler.
Cypress trails Santa Ana by only 1.5 games for the top spot in the OEC Conference. The two teams have matched up twice so far this season, splitting the games one win a piece, and with one more game remaining on the schedule against each other, the conference is still up for grabs.
Coming into the season the team had high expectations with one goal in mind, to make the state championship and eventually win it all. “We expect a lot from this team,” said Pickler. “We have a lot of kids come back who have been here for three years, one has been here for four years. The team was assembled with the idea that hey, let’s make a run for the state championship,” said Pickler.
As for those veteran players who have stuck with the team for multiple years, this season means so much more to them as this will be one of the last seasons they suit up and represent the Cypress Softball team, and they would want nothing more than to leave as champions.
Eliza Sandoval, pitcher/utility player for the Chargers who’s batting.439 which ranks second on the team, described this year’s team as very talented and feels good about where the softball team currently stands as they approach the playoffs.
“Lately we have been doing a lot better as a team. We’re getting a lot closer to each other and I think that’s what’s really helping, I feel good,” said Sandoval.
This is Sandoval’s third year playing for the Chargers and when asked what a championship would mean to her, Sandoval said, “ a lot, I’ve been here for a while and we came up short our first year and our season got cut short the past two years, it’d be really cool,”.
Cameron Curiel, OF, is also in her third year playing and batting .262 while ranking second on the team with 9 stolen bases. For Curiel, this will be one of the last seasons that she plays, and winning a championship would be a proud moment for her.
“If I took a ring this season I would be really proud, not just for me but for my coach, my team. I think it would really mean a lot, especially coming out of these COVID seasons,” said Curiel.
The road to the state championship will not come easy, and Curiel said that in order to take the championship the team needs to, “Start taking our games a little more seriously, make it count when it really matters the most. Just really execute throughout each inning, each game. Take everything seriously one step at a time.”
In her first year, P/3B, Emily Rush is leading the team in many statistics in hitting and pitching categories and is a huge part for this team heading to the playoffs.
“I’m really excited [for the playoffs]. I think the team is finally reaching that potential that we had. Just ready to go,” said Rush. She also explained that to have success in the playoffs the team, they must, “work together and be more as a unit. Just being consistent with each other and being all is one instead of one for all.”
Head coach Brad Pickler also had high praise for Rush saying, “We’re gonna go as far as she carries us.”
BY BRANDON GUIJARRO