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Amazing season ends for Pirates with playoff loss at Cypress

Amazing season ends for Pirates with playoff loss at Cypress

CYPRESS -- A rise in success for the Orange Coast College softball program has been happening for years and for the 2024 season, the Pirate showed the rest of the softball world that they are here to stay after a 27-win season and a second-round trip to the playoffs.

While the season came to an end on Saturday with a 6-1 loss to defending state champion, Cypress College, in the Southern California Super Regional Playoffs, the Pirates have now entered that higher level of programs where teams will be forced to take OCC seriously for years to come.

Much like Friday's series-opening 8-0 setback to the Chargers (37-7), one big inning proved to be the difference in sealing the Pirates' fate. An RBI-single off the bat of Isabel McElroy have the Pirates (27-15) a 1-0 lead and it stayed that way through 4 1/2 innings before the Chargers finally cracked the code of OCC pitcher Angela Whitmer

The sophomore righty, who walked a razor's edge throughout the whole game with Cypress runners on base, finally saw Cypress deliver clutch, two-out hits in the fifth. Lizbeth Gomez drove in two with a bases-loaded single up the middle, giving the Chargers the lead for good and three batters later, Ashlynn Ortiz delivered the knockout blow with a grand slam home run over the left-field fence to blow the game open.

Cypress starter Kaitlyn Reynolds picked up where she left off on Friday, holding Coast to just one run on six hits over 14 innings of work. She didn't strike anyone out on Saturday, but managed to miss the sweet spot of the Pirate bats all afternoon. Reynolds allowed a double to Lexia Martinez and singles to McElroy, Jasmyn Morales and Katie Belmontes, while walking just one Pirate batter (Reyna Hernandez) all afternoon.

Whitmer did her best to keep the dangerous Cypress offense in check, but eight hits and five walks were just too much to hold back as the Chargers return to the State Finals to defending their 2023 crown.

While tears were shed on the Pirate side of the field, there were no hung heads as the 2024 squad earned the respect of every team they faced throughout the season. With eye-popping victories over some of the top programs in the state, including Cypress, Mt. San Antonio, Cerritos and El Camino, to name a few, coach Jodie Kiaha and her coaching staff got the absolute best out of this gritty, hard-working ball club. And, with several freshmen standout players coming back in 2025 -- including Morales (.316, 37 hits, 26 RBI, Hernandez (.240, 9 HR, 32 RBI), Martinez (.247, 22 hits, stellar defense at 2B) and Mckenzie Koshi (.318 34 hits and stellar defense at shortstop), we could be seeing just the beginning of a new era of Pirate softball for years to come. 

Thank you to the sophomores -- Isabel McElroy (.387, 55 hits, 20 RBI), Natalie Lowthers (.385, 50 hits, 22 RBI), Melissa Hanson (.257, team leader at 1B), Lydia Gonzalez (.304, 28 hits, 16 RBI), Katie Belmontes (.268, 11 hits, 9 RBI) and Taylor Nguyen (.184, 15 runs, stellar defense in RF) for continuing the Pirates' rise to respect and success. This group helped lead Coast to the most wins in recent history as well as a trip to the Super Regionals for the first time in over 30 years. The hard work and dedication left by this group will never be forgotten.