COC Insider: Softball hitting its stride with back-to-back wins

College of the Canyons starting pitcher Megan Wilson made quick work of the Barstow College lineup on Wednesday, limiting Vikings batters to just two hits in four innings of work. Canyons picked up the 6-0 victory in five innings and remains a game back of Antelope Valley College in the Western State Conference (WSC), East Division standings. — Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
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By Jesse Muñoz

For The Signal

After suffering through a pair of road shutout losses last weekend, the College of the Canyons lineup has responded by scoring 24 runs over its last two games to pick up a pair of important conference victories.

Canyons (14-10, 6-2) got past visiting Barstow College 8-0 in a five-inning affair at Whitten Field on Wednesday that took just over an hour to complete.

COC starting pitcher Megan Wilson made quick work of the Vikings (8-13-1, 2-6), allowing just two hits and walking one over four innings in the circle. Wilson (9-6) continues to lead the staff in all major categories, having posting a 3.35 ERA across 21 appearances.

Kaitlyn Post led the offensive attack with back-to-back RBI doubles in the first and second innings. She finished the game 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs.

Sierra Boyajian also drove home a run in the second to help Canyons open up an early 6-0 advantage. Valerie Rivas added a sac-bunt RBI in the fourth and Camryn Webb pushed across the final run with an RBI fielder’s choice that scored Post.

Canyons also swiped five bases in the game, including two apiece from Boyajian and Rena Edwards, to help spur the offense.

The day prior it was all Canyons in a 16-5 road victory at Glendale College that was also called after five innings.

Sophomores Kayla Yamane and Alondra Torres both had four RBIs apiece, while Webb added three of her own on a 3-for-3 day that also included a walk and four runs scored.

Wilson got the win for her three innings of work. She allowed two hits, two walks and an unearned run.

The 16-run output represented the second highest run total of the season for COC. The Cougars have also scored 18 runs on two occasions this year.

Winners in five of the last seven games, Canyons, the defending conference champs, currently sits a game behind Western State Conference (WSC), East Division leaders Antelope Valley College (21-7, 7-0). The two teams are scheduled to meet again on April 16 in the Cougars’ final regular season home game.

If COC were able to jump AVC in the standings it would give the Cougars back-to-back conference championships for the first time since the program won three straight in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Canyons has six games remaining on the current homestand, beginning today with a 2:30 p.m. tilt with Citrus College.

Action continues on Saturday with a home doubleheader vs. San Diego Mesa College that was originally scheduled for Feb. 16 but was postponed due to weather. Those games are scheduled for 1 and 3 p.m.

Cougars Shutout Citrus Behind Henry

COC starting pitcher Brandan Henry tossed his second shutout of the month to help Canyons get past Citrus College 6-0 on Tuesday at Cougar Field.

Henry (3-3) scattered four hits, issued no walks and struck out four batters to make quick work of the Owls’ lineup. The Hart grad has now won three of his last four starts for the Cougars, including back-to-back outings. His 3.02 ERA across 53 and 2/3 innings both lead the club.

Canyons (13-12, 5-4) plated a pair of runs to strike first in the second inning, then followed up with two more scores in both the fourth and seventh innings.

Tyler Grodell brought home a run in the second with a sacrifice bunt. Later that inning Tyler Erne came around to score after an infield error by Citrus (10-13-1, 6-3).

Erne scored again in the fourth on a sac-fly by Nate Duarte. Later it was Kyle Soberano singling home Felix Brandt to make it a 4-0 Cougars lead.

Duarte capped things off with a two-run single in the seventh that put the game at 6-0. His three RBIs were a game high.

Erne finished 2-for-4 with three runs. Nick Henry also walked twice and scored two runs.

COC and Citrus continue their three-game series today in Glendora, with the series finale slated for 1 p.m. Thursday at Cougar Field.

Lady Cougars Represented on All-State Team

COC sophomore point guard Alexia Orellena has been named a CCCAA All-State Second-Team honoree after a season in which she finished in the top-20 in both scoring and assists and helped get the Lady Cougars back into the postseason.

Orellana averaged 18.3 points, five assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Those scoring and assist totals were both first on the team and second in the conference. She also ranked No. 18 in the state in scoring and No. 13 in assists per game.

In her second year with program Orellana started all 29 games and posted double-digit point in all but three contests, surpassing the 20-point mark on 11 occasions. She poured in a season-high 35 points vs. Mission College on Dec. 29, and topped the 30-point plateau in four games.

Orellana is also an All-Western State Conference (WSC), South Division First-Team selection and a member of the California Community College Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (CCCWBCA) Academic All-State Team.

“Alexis was considered by many coaches to be one of the top point guards in California,” said COC head coach Greg Herrick. “She had one of the finest single seasons in school history. We will definitely miss her contributions and it was a pleasure to have coached her for two seasons.”

Canyons (17-12, 4-2) finished as runner-up in the WSC, South Division before qualifying to compete in the CCCAA SoCal Regional Playoffs after a two-year postseason absence.

Cougars Tee-Up Fifth Straight Win

Canyons had two golfers shoot under-par rounds to help the Cougars top the field at the Western State Conference (WSC) event held at Spring Valley Lakes Golf Course in Victorville on Monday.

The win was the fifth in a row for COC which continues to lead the conference with a 53-3 overall record. The five-man score of 361 also represented a season-low for the Cougars.

COC freshman Matthew Mansholt was the event medalist with his round of 68, the second under-par score he has posted in as many weeks. Mansholt has broken into the Cougars’ lineup in a big way after a brief layoff from tournament play. Last week he carded a round of 69 to finish as runner-up in the individual standings. But prior to that he had not competed for Canyons since the WSC event on Feb. 25.

“Matt played in our first event, but he’s been up and down since that,” said COC head coach Gary Peterson. “A few weeks ago he regained his confidence and now stands over the ball with a new attitude that he is in control.

“Golf is such a head game,” added Peterson, “and Matt’s head is in the right place now.”

Freshman Nobuhiko Wakaari shot a 69 and finished the day a runner-up to Mansholt. Wakaari has now posted back-to-back rounds of 69 while scoring under par in three of the four tournaments held this month. He currently leads the WSC individual standings and is a strong candidate for Player of the Year.

Jules Lavigne tied for sixth on the day with a score of 73. James Wilkes at 75 and Josh Kalweit at 76 were both included in the final tally.

Those marks helped COC hold off Santa Barbara City College (370) in the number two spot. Ventura (382) was third followed by Glendale (389) and Bakersfield (390).

Canyons will briefly step away from conference competition next week by participating in the Rig City Invitational at Bakersfield Country Club on Monday, April 1.

Canyons Track & Field Shines at AVC Invite

The Cougars put together another strong all-around showing at last Friday’s Antelope Valley College Invitational.

Included among the highlights of the day was the performance by freshman dual-sport athlete Jordan Palmer who won the shot put event after recording a mark of 14.98m (49’ 1.75”).

Palmer, who also starred on the COC offensive line last fall, continues to compete for the Cougars while also balancing off-season football activities. His throw at the AVC Invite was the top mark recorded by a CCCAA Southern California region student-athlete this season and is the No. 2 mark in the entire state. Elijah Folau of San Mateo is the current state leader at 15.06m (49’ 5”).

The six-foot-two-inch freshman also placed second in the discus at a distance of 39.53m (129’ 8”).

“Jordan is having a great season in the throws, especially in the shot put,” commented COC track & field head coach Lindie Kane. “He has adjusted well to the heavier college implements and is a very talented student-athlete.”

COC sophomore Delon Buncio continues to find success in an array of different events. Buncio, who redshirted a season ago, won the javelin by topping the field with a throw of 40.60m (13’ 2”). He also finished third in the long jump at 6.35m (20’ 10”), took fourth in the 400m (10.90) and ran the first leg for the 4 x 400 relay team which won the event with a time of 3:25.51.

A week ago at the Bakersfield College Relays he won the 400h (57.24), placed third in the triple jump (12.77m / 41′ 10.75″) and ran on two relay teams that both finished runner-up.

“Delon has come back and worked really hard after sitting out for a redshirt year,” said Kane. “He has a great work ethic, is a team leader and an exceptional teammate.”

COC’s men’s team combined to win six events in all. Andrew Mercado won the long jump at 6.47m (21’ 2.75”), Jacore Johnson finished first in the 400m (49.31) and Hunter Covarrubias won the 1500m (4:20.98).

The Lady Cougars were led by freshman sprinter Tatiana Smith who recorded a time of 26.44 to win the 200m. Smith also placed second in the 400m at 1:08.46, and ran third on the 4×100 relay team which placed second at 55.97.

“Tatiana continues to improve weekly with hopes of qualifying to compete at the Southern California Finals and then off to the state championships,” said Kane. “With that continued improvement and hard work she may break our women’s 100m school record.”

Canyons returns to AVC on Friday for the WSC Inland Meet with events scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

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