By Jesse Muñoz
For The Signal
Two days after clinching the Western State Conference East Division Championship, College of the Canyons flexed its muscle in a dominating 11-0 win over Victor Valley College at Whitten Field.
Canyons (24-12, 15-0) needed just five innings to take down the Rams (5-22, 4-11) on Thursday, after getting out to a quick 1-0 lead on an RBI-single by Jordan Vallejo that brought home Katie Clinkunbroomer.
Canyons’ team captain and West Ranch product scored two more times in the game, including a third-inning run that she seized while the Rams were preoccupied with a run-down between first and second.
That heads-up play helped spark a big third inning rally that saw the Cougars bat through the order. Heidi Ludy, Danielle Chatman, Sienna Vannoy, Kayla Yamane and Valerie Rivas each recorded RBIs in the inning to remove any doubt about what the game’s final outcome would be.
Ludy also had a bases-clearing triple in the third inning. She finished the game 1-for-2 with a walk and four RBIs. Vallejo was 2-for-2 with a walk, a run, an RBI and two stolen bases.
COC starter Megan Wilson (4-3) tossed the first three innings to earn the win. Katie Taix closed things out with two innings of shutdown relief.
On Tuesday, the Cougars clinched the program’s 15th conference title, and first since 2016, with a 13-4 road win over Antelope Valley College. The title is the seventh under COC head coach John Wissmath, who also won his 300th game with the program earlier this month.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our girls,” Wissmath said after returning from Lancaster. “We’ve secured the conference title, but our goal is still to finish 16-0 and ride that momentum into the postseason.”
The decisive win over Victor Valley brought the Cougars one step closer to achieving that goal, a feat that has not been accomplished since 2013. That season the Cougars were 18-0 in the then-named WSC, Blue Division, with 34-11-2 overall record after losing to Riverside City College in the CCCAA Southern California Super Regional.
“It’s definitely something we’ve thought about,” said Clinkunbroomer about the possibility of a perfect run through the conference.
“Starting the season, we didn’t think we were going to be able to do that, but that first game (against Antelope Valley) at our house, that was a huge turning point,” she said, referencing COC’s 7-2 win over the Marauders on March 15. “After that, we were like ‘okay we can do this.’”
Up next, the Cougars will host Palomar College (29-3, 13-0) for a non-conference doubleheader on Saturday. Games are scheduled to start at noon and 2 p.m.
“Our confidence is really high right now, but we take every game very seriously,” added Clinkunbroomer. “Palomar will be a big couple of games, so we’re going into that with strong heads too.”
Cougars’ Baseball Get Even at Glendale
Canyons clawed its way back from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat conference leader Glendale College 4-2 on Thursday.
The Cougars (22-13, 12-4) mounted the comeback with a big three-run eighth inning highlighted by a two-run pinch-hit home run from Blake Doremus that put Canyons ahead for good.
Nick Henry also homered for the Cougars in the seventh inning to cut the Vaqueros’ (25-11, 14-2) lead in half at 2-1.
COC starter Jacob Lopez got the nod and lasted six innings, allowing two runs and striking out eight batters along the way.
Connor Dreyer (4-1) earned the win after throwing three innings of relief, ending the game allowing two hits and a walk.
The Cougars now sit two games behind the Vaqueros with four conference games left on the schedule. On Tuesday, COC dropped a 9-0 decision to Glendale after mustering just four hits and committing three errors. The loss, which snapped a five-game win streak, was just the third suffered on COC’s home field.
Canyons and Glendale will square off for the final time this season Saturday at Cougar Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
COC Hits Deck at WSC Championships
The Cougars had a strong first-day showing at the WSC Swim & Dive Championships, with two of the men’s relay teams performing strong enough to perhaps earn a trip to next month’s state championship meet.
COC’s 200-yard freestyle relay team of Nick Anguetta, Miguel Martinez, Rowdy Feather and Ian Werner made the first big splash of the meet by posting a school-record time of 1:28.35 to place third in the event.
Later, it was the 400-yard individual medley relay team of Feather, Martinez, Kenny Payne and Werner taking third with a time of 3:39.12 seconds.
With the state’s top 12 relay times in each event automatically qualifying to compete at the CCCAA State Championship meet, both COC squads have a good chance of advancing. However, a final list of state qualifiers won’t be released until early next week after each conference posts its finals results.
“Unfortunately, we’ll just have to wait,” said COC head coach Sean Kakumu.
Canyons will return to action on Friday as part of the three-day conference championship meet being hosted by Bakersfield College.
For more information about the Cougars’ 17 intercollegiate sports programs visit www.COCathletics.com.