Orange Empire Conference softball finds itself in position to battle for its third consecutive State Championship with a strong slate of teams this season, including three of California's top-ranked programs, more than any conference in the state. The first round of conference play is underway and four teams are already separating themselves in the standings.
The defending State Champion Chargers picked up where they left off last season, having now won 61 consecutive games, currently sitting atop the OEC standings and 3CFCA rankings with an overall mark of 13-0 and 5-0 record in conference play.
Sophomore pitcher Hope Davalos and 2017 Conference MVP Sydney McCollum are leading another loaded Cypress team this season. Davolos ranks second in the CCCAA with 11 wins, while boasting an impressive 1.45 ERA in 62.2 innings. McCollum is batting .413 and leading the team in extra base hits (6), home runs (2), and stolen bases (5), while making big plays for Cypress on defense as a shortstop.
No. 6 Santiago Canyon (13-3, 3-2 OEC), who claimed their first State Softball Title in 2016, is another team with elite-level talent trying to make a run at an OEC Title. The Hawks are currently third in the OEC standings after conference loses to Cypress and Santa Ana.
Freshman pitcher Danielle Stallings and sophomore catcher McKenna Boyle lead the Santiago Canyon attack. Stallings is 7-2 in the circle this season with a 2.42 ERA in 46.1 innings. Boyle leads the team with 24 RBI and 7 extra base hits, while hitting for a remarkable .464 AVG in 56 plate appearances.
No. 9 Riverside City College (12-6, 3-2 OEC) broke into the state rankings after an impressive start to the season. The Tigers currently sit fourth in the OEC standings with narrow loses to Cypress and Santa Ana.
Sophomore pitcher Synphony Hall has proven to be one of the top pitchers in the state. Hall is 7-3 this season with the lowest ERA in the conference and fifth lowest in the state at 1.06 in 72.2 innings. Sophomore catcher Aeriel Carlson, who leads the CCCAA in home runs with 9, powers the Tigers' offense. Carlson leads RCC with 22 RBI, while hitting for a .365 AVG.
Last, but surely not least, the unranked Santa Ana Dons (10-7, 4-1 OEC) have proven a tough customer as of late, winning 7 of their last 10 games, including victories over RCC and SCC, to move into the second spot in the OEC standings.
Sophomore pitching duo Kali Kitsinis (4-6) and Priscilla De La Torre (5-1) have gotten the job done for the Dons in the circle this season. Kitsinis and De La Torre have a combined ERA of 2.79 in 112 innings pitched. Freshman infielder Karlee Rivera, who leads the team with a .436 AVG, 9 extra base hits, and a .636 slugging percentage, powers the Dons' offense.