Tied in the seventh inning against Glendale Community College, the College of the Canyons softball team needed something big to happen in their Western State Conference (WSC), South Division opener.
Natsuki Kameyama was that big thing, but the moment came in a small package. The sophomore from Japan unleashed a quick bunt to send Rebecca Rodarte home and got the Cougars a win as they beat Glendale, 7-6, on Thursday.
“It was luck,” Kameyama said.
Modesty aside, the bunt was anything but luck. Coach John Wissmath had a plan in mind when Kameyama stepped up to bat.
“I was thinking to have her hit right-handed and just to make the defense go back a little bit till the backs because there’s two outs,” Wissmath said. “Then I moved her left-handed and I was like, hey, let’s drop down a bunt.”
Kameyama’s game-winning bunt wouldn’t have been possible, however, without a late rally from her teammates. Glendale (4-12, 0-1) had mounted a 5-0 lead by the bottom of the sixth inning.
In the second frame, Arleth Lima and Deja Colbert hit back-to-back RBI singles to lead 2-0, then added another run in the third inning.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Vaqueros tacked on two more runs. Lima laid down a bunt to score Julianna Souza and Colbert hit an RBI single to center field for the second run and a 5-0 advantage.
The bottom of the sixth inning is when the Cougar offense came alive. After Ashlyn Heck got on base with a single, Saugus product Makayla Lopez cracked a double that gave Heck enough time to reach home.
“My second at-bat, I hit it too long,” Lopez said. “I was like, okay, I seem to put a little bit more into it and just like get my hands through and I was like, I just need a base hit, I just need a base hit because we needed runners on and scoring positions, so we just get something together. I was like, alright just hit the ball. That’s all I thought. Let’s get a hit.
Another former Centurion, Rebecca Rodarte hit an RBI single and two at-bats later, Camryn Webb put up another run with an RBI double.
Chiasto Kawanara, who also hails from Japan, hit a triple to drive in two more runs and give Canyons (13-4, 1-0) a 6-5 lead.
After coming in for the end of the sixth inning, pitcher Kaitlyn Post came in to relieve West Ranch alumna Jenna Rorick. In 1 ⅔ innings, Post recorded two strikeouts and gave up one hit.
Glendale scored on an error to tie the game at 6-6 and set up a crucial seventh inning for the Cougars. After Post and Rorick both hit pop flies, Rodarte got on base with a single, then stole second.
In the next at-bat, Kameyama stepped up for her clutch bunt and capture a win that sets the tone for the rest of conference play.
“I feel like it’s a good tone but I feel like we need to come harder than the first game like start our backs way earlier,” Lopez said.
“So then we can kind of like not have a heart attack during the game because I feel like all of us … I was holding one of the girls on my team’s hands like okay, we got this. I feel like it sets a good tone but it shows that we need to come up strong first in the next game.”
COC will next host Cerritos College in a non-conference double-header at home on today. First pitch is scheduled for noon.