Orange Empire Conference softball again finds itself in position to battle for a State Championship with a strong slate of teams this season, including 2 of California's top-ranked programs. The first round of conference play is now in the books with the second round of games set to begin on Wednesday, March 14.
In order of the current conference standings, here is a breakdown of each team as they begin the second round of conference action.
18-0 overall, 7-0 OEC
State Ranking- No. 1
The No. 1 Chargers have dominated their opponents this season. Back-to-back OEC Champion Cypress has an astounding run differential of 122 over the first 18 games of the season, with 146 runs scored to only 24 runs allowed. Cypress cruised through the first round of conference play with their closest game being a 5-run victory over Santa Ana.
The Chargers are led by freshman pitcher Destiney Vasquez, who leads the state with 11 wins and ranks third in the state with a 1.00 ERA. Vasquez also contributes with her bat, hitting .439 AVG with a team leading 18 RBI, 3 HR, and .854 SLG.
Freshman infielder Sydney McCollum (.433, 26 hits, 19 runs, 18 RBI), sophomore outfielder Melanie Okazaki (.415, 22 hits, 22 runs, 15 walks, 17 RBI), and sophomore outfielder Nicole Wise (.451, 23 hits, 14 RBI) power the Chargers' offense.
13-4-1 overall, 6-1 OEC
State Ranking: No. 9
The defending State Champion Hawks currently sit at No. 9 in the 3FCA poll. After opening up OEC play with an 8-0 loss at Cypress the Hawks have bounced back with 6 straight conference victories, including a 34-0 win over Golden West. Santiago Canyon has the most prolific offense in the conference with just under 200 runs scored this season.
The Hawks are led by the bat of sophomore infielder Emili Olague, who leads the state with a .639 AVG and ranks fourth in RBI with 28 this season. Olague is slugging .984 with 4 HR and a team leading 39 hits. The Hawks lineup is stacked with two more players who have already eclipsed the 30-hit mark, including freshman outfielder Sydney Doherty (.600, 30 hits, 18 stolen bases, 9 RBI) and sophomore Manoa Weijgertse (.554, 31 hits, 20 RBI, 15 walks).
9-8 overall, 5-3 OEC
The Gauchos have kept themselves in the mix and are receiving votes in the 3FCA Southern California polls. Saddleback got off to a rough 0-3 start this season but have bounced back nicely to hover above .500. The Gauchos only losses in OEC play have come on the road against Santiago Canyon and Santa Ana in close games and a tough loss at home against Cypress.
The Gauchos pitching staff is led by sophomore Nelsa Delagente (3.47 ERA, 7 wins, 54 strikeouts, 72.2 IP). Sophomore Drew Moore (.418, 23 hits, 8 RBI) powers the Gauchos' offense.
12-9 overall, 4-3 OEC
The Dons have come on strong as of late, winning their last 4 games with a 39-6 run differential. After a big win at home over third place Saddleback, Santa Ana began recieving votes in the 3FCA Southern California rankings and should break into the top-10 if they keep up their recent pace.
The Dons pitching staff is led by freshman Pricilla De La Torre (3.97 ERA, 18 strikeouts, 6 wins, 60 IP). Sophomore Kasey Hutton (.478, 32 hits, 23 stolen bases, 9 RBI) and sophomore Jynelle Pangelinan (.403, 25 hits, 11 RBI).
RIVERSIDE CITY COLLEGE
9-7 overall, 4-3 OEC
The Tigers struggled out of the gate this season but have managed to pick up their play as of late. Riverside has won 5 of their last 6 games, including 3 shutout victories.
Sophomore pitcher Laura Mendez (3.00 ERA, 29 strikeouts, 63 IP) is tied for the second most wins in the conference with 7. Freshman outfielder Megan Cartwright (.352, 7 RBI, 19 hits) and sophomore Emily Wilcox (.526, 20 hits, 13 RBI) lead the Tigers' bats.
7-12 overall, 2-6 OEC
The Hornets got off to a nice start this season but have struggled in conference play so far this season. Fullerton has dropped their last 3 games with their last win coming at home against Orange Coast.
The Hornets have 2 players with over 20 hits this season, including freshman Eryka Springer (.371, 23 hits, 17 RBI, 2 HR) and sophomore Amanda Guillen (.440, 22 hits, 11 RBI).
ORANGE COAST COLLEGE
3-13 overall, 1-6 OEC
The Pirates started the season 2-0, but have since dropped 13 of their last 14 games with their lone victory coming against Golden West College in conference play.
Despite the teams' struggles this season, sophomore Cayla Ezelle (.553, 26 hits, 21 RBI, 2 HR) and freshman Nala Osorio (.436, 24 hits, 17 RBI) are turning in terrific seasons thus far.
GOLDEN WEST COLLEGE
0-15 overall, 0-7 OEC
It has been a down year for the Golden West College Rustlers as they are still searching for their first victory of the season.
Freshman Vanessa Camacho (.364, 12 hits, 5 RBI) has been one of the bright spots for the Rustlers this season.