Orange Coast Pitching for Another Title
When Orange Coast softball Coach Nick Trani passed along a copy of his team’s statistics, he made sure the pitching numbers were on top.
While proud of the accomplishments of his pitchers, Trani was jokingly trying to hide his players’ hitting statistics.
The Pirates (14-6, 8-1 in conference) are hitting .183 overall, and only .173 in Orange Empire Conference games. Kathy Shortall, best among the regulars, is at .250 starting this week.
But despite the offensive woes, which include averaging slightly fewer than three runs per game, OCC is tied for first with Cypress in the conference.
This season has been a great contrast compared to last, when OCC won the conference and reached the State tournament with the best offensive club in the history of the school.
In 1992, the Pirates hit .293, led by sophomore Shannon Ebert, who batted .422. Sam Lutsch hit .383 but has transferred to Saddleback.
Becky Elcock, a third baseman and outfielder, hit .344 last season but has slumped to .229 this year. Shortall hit .294 last season.
“When I look at the proven hitters on this team, I know it is just a matter of time before we start to do better,” Trani said. “We’ve been making good contact; the hits just haven’t fallen in. I figure they will start.”
In the meantime, OCC has taken advantage of what little offense it has gotten and played strong defense behind the pitching of sophomore Jill Bishop as well as that of Shortall.
Bishop is 10-5 with an 0.94 earned-run average and four shutouts. Shortall is 4-1.
“We play good defense and put a lot of pressure on the other teams,” Trani said. “We have to.”
Decisions, decisions: While it wasn’t the most important factor, former Cypress standout Eric Pauley factored in a chance to get to the Final Four when choosing a four-year college.
But as it turns out, he would have gone to New Orleans this weekend no matter which of his final two choices he attended.
Pauley signed with Kansas, where he has started at forward most of this season despite a lingering knee injury.
Pauley, from Savanna High School, had Kentucky as his other choice.
Kansas plays North Carolina and Kentucky plays Michigan Saturday in the semifinals.
Welcome to the electronic age: Orange Coast will become the fifth of the seven Orange Empire Conference teams to have an electronic scoreboard when the new equipment is dedicated Saturday before the Pirates’ game against Golden West. Game time is noon and the scoreboard ceremony is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
Planet Hollywood, a nearby restaurant, helped finance the project and its logo will sit atop the board, which is behind the fence in right-center field.
Planet Hollywood and the college struck a deal in which the profits from meals bought by students, showing identification, on Mondays will go toward the cost of the board.
The scoreboard shows the score by innings, run, hit and error totals, the count, number of the hitter, and number of outs.
Rancho Santiago and Riverside have similar scoreboards, while Golden West and Saddleback have smaller scoreboards.
Cypress and Fullerton still have manual scoreboards.
Basketball: John Molle of Saddleback was the only local community college player to make the all-state basketball team. Molle, from Irvine High School and San Diego State, was the co-most valuable player of the Orange Empire Conference.
Brandon Jessie, who went to Edison High School and played at Ventura College, also made the first team. Calvin Curry of Ventura and Roddie Anderson of Columbia were the co-MVPs of the state.
Women’s tennis: Orange Coast beat Fullerton, 8-1, Thursday to clinch the Orange Empire Conference title. The Pirates (10-0) have a three-match lead with two left.
It was the 14th conference title in 16 seasons for OCC Coach Janice Maran. Her teams have an overall mark of 245-21 and a conference mark of 180-10.