By Jesse Munoz
For The Signal
More than a week has passed since College of the Canyons plated a season-high 19 runs in a home win vs. L.A. Valley, but the Cougars still have not stopped hitting.
Canyons softball hung another football score on the board Thursday, this time downing West L.A. College 15-3 at Whitten Field to remain unbeaten vs. Western State Conference (WSC), East Division opponents.
COC (10-8, 4-0) has now won three straight, and five of the last six, thanks in large part to the Cougars’ hot bats and steady pitching. Canyons is tied with Antelope Valley College for first place in the conference standings.
Freshman Kayla Yamane was 2-for-3 with a double, a run and three RBIs to help lead the attack. Yamane has now collected six RBIs in her last four at-bats. Jordan Vallejo was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, one of five players with a multi-RBI day.
“I think we have a pretty good offense,” said COC softball head coach John Wissmath. “We have a little bit of power, we can put the bunt down and we’ve got some speed. So we’ll always compete in that category.”
Indeed, over the last six games Canyons has recorded 26 extra base hits and eight stolen bases. The Cougars are currently batting .352 on the season while getting on base at a .434 clip.
But during conference play those numbers have swelled, with COC scoring 55 runs, batting .465 and posting a .552 on-base percentage to lead the WSC in all three categories.
“Winning that game versus Citrus College, that helped us a lot,” said Wissmath, referring to COC’s 6-2 conference victory over the Owls back on Feb. 27, the first win in the current three-game streak. “That gave us a little bit of that confidence we needed.”
While the hitting has been the highlight, the pitching has been just as important, despite the Cougars’ posting double-digit run totals in back-to-back games.
On Thursday, COC sophomore Joy Veloz made her first start of the season and earned the win with a three-inning effort that included four strikeouts.
Right-hander Katie Taix (6-3) has also carried a heavy load for the Cougars by winning her last four starts and reliever Megan Wilson has recorded back-to-back scoreless appearances.
“Right now I’ve got confidence in all my pitchers,” Wissmath said. “Getting Joy back is going to give our team another nice lift.”
Canyons is scheduled to host No. 4 state-ranked Mt. SAC (17-1, 4-0) for a doubleheader on Saturday, with games beginning at noon and 2 p.m. barring any potential weather delays.
“I can’t wait to see what Mt. SAC looks like,” Wissmath said. “They will give us a better gauge of what we still need to improve.”
Canyons Wins Fourth Straight Conference Event
COC golf won its fourth straight conference tourney on Monday as Corey Hasse, Justin Buenaventura and Michael Lindgren each carded rounds of 74 to help the Cougars to a nine-stroke victory at Bakersfield Country Club.
The Cougars (382) bested second-place Santa Barbara City College (391), third-place Glendale College (394), fourth-place Ventura (396) and fifth-place Bakersfield College (407) in the WSC tourney.
The event also served as the setting for the annual California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California Preview and drew a total field of 16 teams, including the nine Western State Conference (WSC) programs.
COC placed fifth in the regional competition to trail Riverside City College (379), Cypress College (378), Palomar College (378) and event winner Orange Coast College (365).
Haase, Buenaventura and Lindgren tied for second place in the conference event individual standings. Jones Comerford followed at 75 and Sam Daly rounded out the COC top-five with a score of 78.
Canyons continues to lead the WSC with five conference tournaments remaining until the WSC Finals on April 30. The Cougars return to action at WSC No. 6 at Antelope Valley Country Club on Monday.
Four Cougars Earn All-WSC Honors
For the second year in a row, COC sophomore guards Michael Kalu and Jacob Lilley earned All-Western State Conference (WSC) First-Team selections. The backcourt duo was joined by freshman center Anthony Simone and sophomore forward Frankie Campbell who both received Honorable Mention nods.
Kalu led the Cougars in scoring with 17.1 points per game. His 4.5 rebounds each night were good for third on the team. Lilley scored an average of 11.7 points per game and dished out assists at a rate of 5.3 per contest.
Simone finished third on the team with 10.4 points per game and a team-high 60.1 shooting percentage. Simone also recorded a team-high 29 blocks over his 28 games. Campbell averaged nine points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game, but saw those numbers increase to 10.1 points and 9.4 rebounds vs. WSC opponents.
Canyons concluded the 2017-18 season with a 14-14 overall record and 5-3 mark in conference play to finish second in the WSC, South. The Cougars earned the No. 20 seed in the CCCAA SoCal Regional Playoffs but fell to No. 13 Santiago Canyon College 99-73 in the opening round.
Lady Cougars Have Four Featured on All-WSC Squad
The COC women’s basketball team had four players named to the 2018 All-Western State Conference (WSC), South Division Team.
COC sophomore forwards Kalana Inemer and Morgan Bizzell were joined by freshman forward Maryrose Elias and sophomore guard CiCi O’Brien on the all-conference squad.
Inemer averaged 15 points each night while her 13.9 rebounds per game led the WSC and ranked fourth in the state. She recorded double-digit point totals in 18 games, and double-digit rebounds in 24 contests.
Bizzell averaged 10.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for the Cougars to earn her second All-WSC selection. The sophomore will next head to the University of the Virgin Islands after recently committing to the Buccaneers’ women’s basketball program.
Elias led the team in scoring with 15.8 points per contest and shot a team-high 47.7 percent from the floor. During conference play she upped those numbers to 17 points per night.
O’Brien returned to the Cougars in 2017-18 after sitting out a year to rehab from injury. The sophomore averaged eight points and 4.8 assists vs. conference opponents.
Canyons finished the 2017-18 season with a 16-11 overall record and 7-1 mark in conference play to share a co-WSC, South Division Championship with West L.A. College.
For more information about the Cougars’ 17 intercollegiate sports programs visit www.COCathletics.com.