Vaqueros thrive under stress

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — When it was needed most, the Glendale Community College softball team played at its best Tuesday in a doubleheader with L.A. Mission College.

"This was a day where if we lost one we probably wouldn't have made it [into the California College Athletic Assn. regional playoffs], we had to win them both," Glendale Coach Dave "Hawk" Wilder said.

Not only did the Vaqueros do that, they did so convincingly, winning both games at the Glendale Sports Complex by a score of 8-0 to, according to Wilder, cement their spot in the regional tournament and as the second-place team in the Western State Conference's Blue Division with a 12-6 conference, 27-13 overall record.

Coming into Tuesday, both Citrus College and Bakersfield College had a chance to finish with an identical conference record, but GCC held tiebreakers over both squads.

"[The girls] stepped up and did what they're supposed to," Wilder said. "This is the second time we've gone to regionals and this is the best team we've probably had here ever."

Brandy Morin and Kitty Nguyen led Glendale to a mercy-rule win in five innings in Tuesday's opener.

Morin and Nguyen each batted in two runs in the first half of the doubleheader with Nguyen notching a triple, while the Vaqueros scored their remaining runs on four L.A. Mission errors.

Morin notched the shutout in the circle, as she racked up six strikeouts and surrendered three hits in five innings.

It was more of the same in the second game for Morin and Nguyen.

Nguyen blew the game open in the bottom of the third when she bashed a bases-loaded triple and eventually came all the way around to score herself on a throwing error, giving the Vaqueros a 6-0 lead.

GCC's Cece Martinez added another run four batters later when she singled home Mynia Bogan, who walked and moved to second on an Adrienne Lozano single.

The Vaqueros' final run came on a successful squeeze bunt from Carley Zabka (two for two). Nancy Pinedo (two for three) scored on the play after she reached on an infield single, stole second and took third on a Morin sacrifice bunt.

Morin continued her dominance in the circle in the day's finale, as she gave up three hits, a walk and struck out four batters in five innings.

"I gave it everything I had, knowing it could be my last one here," said Morin, who chalked up her solid performance to being well-rested. "I had four days off so that kind of helped me. I don't know, I just felt good."

Glendale's offense clicked in the other dugout, as everyone in the Vaqueros starting lineup notched a hit in the game.

Bogan set GCC up for an early lead when bashed a run-scoring triple to left-center field in the bottom of the second and came around to score on a Martinez groundout to shortstop.

It all just showed that on days like Tuesday, when the pressure is turned up, the Vaqueros are at their best, Nguyen said.

"We like these moments, we've had a lot of late comebacks this year," said Nguyen, who had five RBI on the day. "This is just the norm with us. …We've just got to stay hungry [in regionals] and give it everything we have because you don't know when it's going to end."

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