A preview of this weekend's regional round best two-of-three series between #10 Citrus College and #7 Cerritos College in Norwalk in the 2017 California Community College Athletic Association Southern California Playoffs. Game #1 is set for a 2:00 PM first pitch on Friday, while Game #2 is one for 12:00 PM on Saturday with a third and final tilt set 20 minutes following game two if necessary.
About the Matchup
This weekend will be the first meeting between Citrus College and Cerritos College this season, but the seventh in the last decade. In that span, the Falcons are a strong 6-1 against the Owls, including a 6-4 post-season extra-innings win over Citrus College back in 2015. That playoff game was preceded by Citrus' lone win against Cerritos a 4-3 victory in Glendora at the start of the 2015 season.
With the exception of the second contest during the 2008 season hosted by Citrus College, the two teams have played each other especially close, with each of the other six games being decided by two runs or less. The Owls have only travelled to Norwalk once since 2007, that was last year when the Falcons outlasted the Owls 6-4. Citrus has three players from last year's team that lost at Cerritos on this year's squad. Of the three, sophomore Jade Nua was the lone to record a hit, going 1-for-4. Sophomore Celine Spathias finished 0-for-4 in that contest, but did drive in a run.
About the Falcons
Cerritos College heads into the 2017 post-season after posting a 26-13 overall record and going 7-5 and finishing third in the South Coast Conference South Division. The Falcons are in the playoffs for the 11th straight year and for the 14th time in Head Coach Kodee Murray's 16 seasons at the helm. The Falcons have won nine of their last 12 headed into this weekend.
Cerritos boasts one of the most explosive and patience offenses in the State of California this season. The Falcons finished the year 12th in total runs scored (294) and 1st in walks (182). They are paced by All-SoCal selection Kylee Brown who hit .415 with 64 RBIs, and 16 home runs. Sophomores Kristen Voller and Jissel Caballero were 1st team All-South Coast South selections, with Voller going 13-7 in the circle with 79 K's and a 3.41 ERA. Caballero was 9-3 in the circle with a 2.38 ERA, but also hit .385 with 41 RBIs and 13 doubles.
About the Owls
Citrus College heads into the 2017 post-season playing some of it's best softball of the year. The Owls lost their last two games of the year, but had won seven straight prior to that and have won nine of their last twelve. In their last 12, the Owls are averaging 9.6 runs per game.
The Owls are paced by sophomore WSC East Player of the Year and 1st team All-State selection Jade Nua. Nua led the State in batting average (.613), walks (41), on-base percentage (.748), and slugging percentage (1.301). Her batting average mark, and slugging percentage marks are CCCAA single-season records, while her 41 walks are the second most by an individual in State history. Nua also drove in 62 RBIs which was fifth most in the CCCAA this year, and swatted 16 home runs which was third in the State in 2017.
Nua is far from the only weapon that Citrus has though, as freshman Seanna Jimenez (.431 | 48 runs), sophomore Celine Spathias (.380 | 46 RBIs), and freshman Valerie Ortiz (.387 | 39 RBIs) have helped contributed to an offense that finished the regular season eighth in the State in batting average (.372), fifth in slugging percentage (.585), and second in on-base percentage (.469).
The Owls in the Post-Season
Friday afternoon will mark Citrus' 10th trip to the playoffs in the last 12 years under Head Coach Jackie Boxley. The Owls have had a mix bag in the post-season, but have been strong as of late, advancing to the Super Regionals twice between 2013 and 2015 (Citrus missed the post-season last year). Citrus is 8-16 overall in the playoffs, but thats not to say the Owls haven't been competitive. The Owls have made it out of the regional round twice in it's 10 trips, and of their last six regional round eliminations, Citrus has forced a third and deciding game in four of the series.
Citrus vs the South Coast Conference
The Owls have taken on six South Coast Conference opponents so far this year, playing Chaffey College, East Los Angeles College, El Camino College, Mt. San Antonio College, Pasadena City College, and Rio Hondo College. Citrus went 5-2 against that group, beating Chaffey, ELAC, PCC, and Rio, while falling to El Camino and Mt. SAC. Of that group Pasadena was seeded #13, El Camino # 3, and Mt. SAC #2. Against those five schools, Cerritos College went a combined 6-6, losing to El Camino, Mt. SAC, and Pasadena.
How to Follow
There are a few ways to follow the action this weekend. The first is too attend in person at Cerritos College. General Admission is $12, while students, seniors, and children 12 and under are $8 a game. Parking is free next to the softball field this weekend on Old Falcon Way.
The second would be to follow the social media accounts of Citrus College Athletics. We will be posting updates on Twitter (@ccfightingowls) throughout the contest and posting updates on Instagram (CitrusAthletics) and utilizing Facebook Live (Citrus College Athletics) when appropriate.