COSTA MESA -- The ever-improving Orange Coast College softball team is in the middle of a tough stretch of games, culminating with Friday's 5-0 Orange Empire Conference loss to first-place Cypress College.
Over the past nine games, the Pirates (15-14, 6-9) have come up on the wrong end of the scoreboard all nine times, but the opposition they have faced has been drawing the attention of everyone in the sport. Included in this nine-game stretch included matchups against Mt. San Antonio (state ranked No. 2), Cypress (No. 3), Santa Ana College (No. 5, two games), El Camino (No. 8), Fullerton (No. 9), Palomar (No. 13), Santiago Canyon (No. 15) and Riverside (No. 16). While the win-loss record has suffered a bit, OCC's strength of schedule and overall level of play have increased, keeping the Pirates in playoff contention.
On Friday, Coast hung tough with the first-place Chargers (28-2, 15-0 in the OEC), trailing 1-0 through three innings before a two-run triple by Amanda Campos and an RBI-single by Gabrielle Munoz put Cypress up, 4-0.
Coast began to show some offense in the bottom of the sixth when Jessica Scotty singled and advanced to second, followed by a walk to Liana Castro. But Cypress reliever Eliza Sandoval wiggled out of the jam when a line drive off the bat of Sarah Ramirez was caught and turned into a double play.
After Cypress tacked on an extra run in the top of the seventh, Madison Taylor led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to right-center and Brooklyn Pack walked to put two runners on with nobody out. But once again, Sandoval worked out of trouble and kept the Pirates off the scoreboard to end the game.
Ramirez pitched effectively for 3 1/3 innings against one of the top teams in the state, holding the Chargers to four runs, before Bronwyn Jarvis came in and allowed just one run on three hits with four strikeouts over the final 3 2/3 innings.
Coast will return to action on Saturday at home against Cerritos College, beginning at 11 a.m.