TORRANCE, Calif. – The No. 4 El Camino College softball got a huge two-out hit from Mina Nakawake and it proved to be enough in a 2-1 victory over No. 13 San Diego Mesa Saturday afternoon in game two of the CCCAA Softball Southern California Regionals at the ECC Softball Field.
The Warriors (36-6) got plenty of runners on base but had a tough time cashing them in as the team stranded 10 runners on base for the game. Luckily, Nakawake made sure two of those runners made it around to score in the fifth inning as she smacked a two-out, two-run single up the middle to put ECC ahead 2-1 after leaving runners stranded in scoring position in three of the first four innings.
Nakawake, who did not start, came in to the game in the fourth inning and laid down a sacrifice bunt in her first appearance. The Warriors would leave the bases loaded in the frame.
In the fifth, Alena De La Torre drew a one-out walk and then stole second to put the tying run in scoring position for the fourth time in the first five innings. Kassidy Robinson drew another walk to put two runners on and then, after a pop out, both runners pulled off a double steal to get the go-ahead run in scoring position.
Nakawake stepped in and sent a hard grounder back up the middle and into center field to drive in the two runs and put the Warriors up for good.
The Olympians took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first after Andrea Wright hit a pop-fly single to center in between three Warriors defenders. Isabella Casares, who reached on a walk and then stole second, came around to score to put the visitors up early.
Jocelyn Hernandez picked up her 16th victory of the season in the circle, coming in to pitch in relief of Elizabeth Cortez in the third inning after Cortez issued a leadoff walk. Dylana Guyon then greeted Hernandez with a perfectly placed bunt along the first-base line. Kassandra Solis-Corrales advanced all the way to third base on the play and the Warriors were in a big jam.
But Hernandez was up to the task, getting the next three batters to pop up to short, strikeout and then pop up to third base to end the threat and keep the deficit at one.
The Olympians mounted one last stand in the seventh as they got the first two runners on base on a hit and an error. The Warriors got the first out on an attempted sacrifice bunt when Diamond Lewis fielded the ball and got the lead runner at third base.
The two runners would advance on a groundout, putting the potential go-ahead run in scoring position. Hernandez and Casares locked into a seven-pitch battle before Hernandez came out ahead, forcing a fly out to Nakawake in center to end the game and the series.
Hernandez allowed five hits but pitched five scoreless innings, recording one strikeout.
The Warriors advance to the CCCAA Softball Southern California Super Regionals for the third straight year and the fourth time in the last five seasons. The series is set to begin Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the ECC Softball Field. The opponent is to be determined.