There is no homecoming game in community college softball, so the greatest hope for a feel-good victory is on sophomore day, typically the final home game of the season.
With this in mind Orange Coast College chose to recognize its sophomores on Wednesday in the third-to-last home game, with the idea that visiting Golden West would provide a willing victim.
The Rustlers complied, as the Pirates posted a 21-0 triumph in a game that ended after five innings due to the 10-run rule.
OCC (7-27, 4-14 in conference) snapped an 11-game losing streak and had its most hits (19) and runs since a 29-1 season-opening win over El Camino-Compton Center on Feb. 28 in which it had 21 hits.
Sophomores Anna Marin and Gretchen Hom both had a career high in runs batted in with five and four, respectively, as nine Pirates had at least one hit.
Hom was three for four, while Marin was two for four to fortify a collective OCC flex that included a one-hit shutout by sophomore pitcher Carlie Chauslett-Utley, who had her best start of the season.
The lone hit for Golden West (0-29, 0-18) was an ill-fated single by Briana Morrison to lead off the second inning. After whacking a drive to left-center field, Morrison was thrown out by center fielder Jenna Hernandez trying to stretch it into a double.
Kayla Hernandez, who walked with two outs in the fourth, was the only other Rustler to reach first base. Only two Rustlers hit the ball out of the infield.
It was the second complete-game shutout of the season for Chauslett-Utley, who tied her season high with six strikeouts.
OCC's Hernandez, a freshman, was three for three with three RBIs, two runs and one stolen base, while sophomore Cayla Ezelle was three for four with a walk, two RBIs and two runs for the hosts.
Briana Covarrubias was three for four with three runs and one RBI, while freshman Daria Bair was two for two with two RBIs and three runs for OCC.
Sophomore Linnea Donahugh was one for two with two stolen bases and two runs, while sophomore reserves Kaylin Etheridge (one RBI) and Montana Roelvink both singled in their only at-bats.
Golden West has now lost 41 straight games and 34 straight OEC contests, and will finish last in conference for the fourth straight season.
OCC, which won its 13th straight meeting with its district rival, knows how the Rustlers feel. OCC has finished last eight times in the previous 11 seasons, including 2015 when it shared the cellar with Golden West.
"We once were at that point," Marin said of Golden West's futility, which included eight errors that produced nine unearned runs. "It's only upward for them. I wish them the best of luck, but it's nice to win this one. It was a lot of, lot of fun."
OCC Coach Jodie Legaspi-Kiaha, a former star at UCLA who is in her first season as a full-time head coach, also said the win was gratifying. But she noted that her long-term vision for the program isn't focused on wins and losses just now.
"It's a building year for us this year," Legaspi-Kiaha said. "It's not evident in the win column, but we are building a culture here with the kids and families we have brought in. These kids have stuck with it this season and they are helping us build something."
Legaspi-Kiaha said the recruits coming to OCC next season should continue the upward trend.
First-year Golden West Coach Stesha Brazil, who played collegiately at Fresno State and was hired late in the offseason, is also in building mode. Nine of the 10 Rustlers who played Thursday are freshmen.
Orange Empire Conference
Orange Coast 21, Golden West 0
SCORE BY INNINGS
GWC 000 00 – 0 1 8
OCC 548 4x – 21 19 0
Camacho, Boyette and Hernandez; Chaulsett-Utley and Marin. W – Chaulsett-Utley, 5-11. L – Camacho, 0-15. 2B – Covarrubius (OCC), Marin (OCC), Bair (OCC), Ezelle (OCC).