The Pasadena City College softball team rebounded from its first South Coast Conference loss Thursday by blanking host Grossmont, 3-0, Friday in a non-conference game. The shutout lifted the Lancers to a 13-7 overall record as they have risen to No. 10 in the all-important SoCal Region RPI rankings at .572.
While conference champions receive automatic bids to the regional playoffs, the rest of the postseason field is based primarily on a team's RPI. PCC has the third highest RPI among SCC teams and while the season is just past the halfway mark, things are looking good for the Lancers. Pasadena last qualified for the playoffs in 2006.
PCC has losses against RPI No. 1 Cypress, No. 2 Mt. San Antonio, No. 5 El Camino (twice), No. 6 Antelope Valley, and No. 7 Moorpark. The Lancers are 1-1 v. No. 12 Cerritos, and now a win over No. 13 Grossmont. PCC is 13-1 against teams rated below it.
Against the Griffins, PCC freshman Angel Wintercorn tossed a 4-hit gem, walking 2 and striking out 4 in going the complete game route. In the fourth inning, the Lancers scratched a run on a RBI single to right center by leftfielder Jazmine Cabrera. First baseman Bree Howard delivered a run-scoring single in the sixth and catcher Jeneve Medrano knocked in a run on a basehit in the seventh.
On Thursday, the Lancers dropped to 3-1 in SCC play as state No. 3-ranked Mt. San Antonio remained undefeated at 19-0 with a come-from-behind, 3-2 win in Walnut. Frosh second baseman Alex Howard had given PCC a 2-1 lead on a 2-RBI single in the third inning. Howard would collect the only two hits of the game for Pasadena against Mt. SAC winning pitcher Raqual Espinoza.
Mt. SAC rallied with a run in the sixth and then the game-winner on a sacrifice fly to left by Taylor Jaurique in the seventh. PCC had a 5-game win streak snapped.
"We are a very resilient team and the players don't let things bother them," said PCC head coach Monica Tantlinger. "We've had three road games against Mt. SAC, Cerritos and El Camino where we were either tied or had the lead going into the bottom of the seventh only to lose each of them. That's how close we are from being a state top 10 team. But we beat Cerritos at home the second time we faced them, and we almost upset the Mounties at their yard. We are scrappy and keep plugging away. I wasn't sure how our offense would be this season, but we've put up some big numbers against several teams."
After 20 games, letterman shortstop Karina Moreno leads the squad in hits (23), runs scored (23) and stolen bases (12) while batting .348. Alex Howard (batting .317, three doubles, two triples) tops the Lancers in RBI with 21. Bree Howard, no relation to Alex, has a team-high six home runs and also leads PCC in both slugging percentage (1.000) and on-base percentage (.476). The first-year slugger is batting .405 with 16 RBI. The freshman Cabrera currently leads the team in batting at .421 with two triples, three doubles and 10 RBI.
In the pitching circle, sophomore Pica Madrid is 7-3 with two saves and a 2.76 ERA in 50.2 innings of work. Wintercorn (3-4) tops the Lancers hurlers in ERA at 2.36, strikeouts with 40, and innings pitched at 53.1. Letterman Lauren Jackson is 3-0 and has sparkled in her five appearances allowing only 12 hits and just one run in 14.2 IP.