Alisha Nelson of Orange Coast hardly needed to be perfect Friday, but she was. While Nelson was pitching a perfect game, OCC was collecting 16 hits in a 7-0 victory over Rio Hondo in the first round of the Southern California Regional softball playoffs in Costa Mesa.
Nelson, the Orange Empire Conference pitcher of the year, was helped by three fine defensive plays. Rio Hondo's Lisa Quintero hit a grounder into the outfield, but right fielder Tracey Colombo threw her out at first to end the first inning.
Second baseman Stephani Rogers reached a line drive that appeared to be headed toward right field in the fifth inning and Colombo had a fine running catch with one out in the sixth.
It was the first perfect game and fourth no-hitter this season for Nelson (21-6). It was also her 14th shutout. She had three strikeouts, got six fly outs and 12 ground-ball outs.
Orange Coast got most of its offense from Shannon Ebert, Sam Lutsch and Becky Elcock, the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters.
Elcock, the No. 5 hitter, had four hits, including a triple and a double, drove in three runs, and scored two. Lutsch, the No. 4 hitter, had a double and two singles, drove in two runs and scored one. She had an RBI single in the first inning to give OCC a 1-0 lead.
Ebert, the No. 3 hitter, struck out and grounded to the pitcher in her first two at-bats, but singled and tripled her next two trips. She also scored twice.
"Alisha pitched her normal game and we played good defense," OCC Coach Nick Trani said. "It was nice to see us play well."
Rogers also had two hits and an RBI for OCC.
OCC (31-9) plays Riverside at 10 a.m. today in the championship semifinal of the regional. Riverside advanced by beating Chaffey, 10-9, in nine innings Friday at OCC. Chaffey came back to beat Rio Hondo, 8-2, eliminating the Roadrunners.
In other regional games:
Cypress 1, Cerritos 0--Cypress scored with one out in the fourth when Nikkanni Andrews--who had singled, stolen second, and gone to third on a sacrifice fly--scored on an error by the Cerritos shortstop.
Cypress pitcher Dena Villasenor (13-2) gave up two hits in 4 2/3 innings, and was relieved by Leigh Sager, who struck out two and allowed no hits. Cypress, 34-11 and the defending State champion, plays Moorpark--a 8-0 winner Friday over Grossmont--at 10 a.m. today in the semifinals.
Cerritos (18-18) had a lead-off triple by Tracy Cortez with one out in the top of the fourth, but left fielder Jackie Boxley caught a fly ball and threw Cortez out at home for an inning-ending double play.
Grossmont beat Cerritos, 4-2, Friday and plays the loser of the Cypress-Moorpark game at noon today.