WILMINGTON -- After over two decades of futility, the Orange Coast College softball program has turned heads around the state as a program to be reckoned with and on Monday, the Pirates picked up their 20th win of the season with a 4-2 victory over L.A. Harbor College.
The last time the Pirates had 20-or-more wins came all the way back in 1995 when they won 31 games and earned a postseason berth. Following that season, a carousel of coaching changes had left the program unstable, but under full-time skipper, Jodie Kiaha, Coast softball now has the foundation for success.
"The opportunity to build successful individuals on and off the field is a privilege," Kiaha said. "Assistant coaches like Tara Allis and Monica Harrison have helped pave the way for this to happen."
After a 10-win season in 2016 and a nine-win season in 2017, Coast started to see its hard work pay off with a 17-win season last year. That momentum carried into this year, where OCC jumped out to an 11-1 record and received state ranking votes from those around the sport.
Playing one of the toughest schedules in the state, OCC's 40-game schedule will feature 22 games against teams ranked in the top-10 in Southern California. Playing the best teams not only makes the Pirates a tougher team, but also earns the team RPI points, which help factor into which teams qualify for the postseason, another goal that has not been reached by the Pirates since 1995.
On Monday, Coast (20-16) had runners on second and third with one out in the top of the second, when Brooklyn Pack hit a deep fly ball to center field that allowed both runners to score on the sacrifice fly, putting OCC up, 2-0 on the host Seahawks (13-19).
It stayed that way until the top of the seventh, when Blake Hesla tripled and scored on a passed ball. Three batters later, Shawna Aguerrebere walked, stole second and scored on a L.A. Harbor error, putting OCC up, 4-0.
The Seahawks made some noise in the bottom of the seventh with a pair of runs, but OCC starter Bronwyn Jarvis minimized the damage and picked up the complete-game victory. The sophomore righty allowed two runs on nine hits with three strikeouts over seven innings to pick up the win and improve to 7-6 for the season.
"Although 20 wins is significant from a win-loss perspective, more undocumented success has been achieved along the way to this milestone," Kiaha said. "We have a team cumulative grade point average of 3.37 and had four of our players earned a 4.0 GPA last year. This year, 16 players have above a 3.0 GPA. The team's culture is strong with the family environment that lives here at our softball complex and that is due to the earlier teams that bought into this vision. It is a great day to be a Pirate!"
OCC returns to action on Wednesday at home against Santiago Canyon College, beginning at 3 p.m.