Hornets’ late offensive surge propels them to win over Pirates

Fullerton College’s offense woke up in the fifth inning to the tune of seven runs, which helped the Hornets maintain their perfect OEC record.
Hornets freshman first baseman Veronica Moore makes a charging play on the ball and flips it back to first base to get the out on Thursday, April 4, 2024.
Hornets freshman first baseman Veronica Moore makes a charging play on the ball and flips it back to first base to get the out on Thursday, April 4, 2024.
Matthew Gonzalez

The Hornets trailed early, but a change in the wind seemed to coincide with a Hornets’ momentum boost, as they scored seven consecutive runs to come back in thrilling fashion and defeat the Orange Coast Pirates 7-2 Thursday afternoon at home.

Fullerton trailed 2-0 when sophomore shortstop Cassidy Hornung came to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning with two runners on base, the perfect time to deliver a big spark. Then, time was called and Hornung met up with her coaches and teammates to deliberate a strategy.

As OCC sophomore starting pitcher Angela Whitmer pitched to the lefty, Hornung took a running start toward the pitcher before crushing a  line drive to left field, giving Hornung and RBI and the Hornets their first run of the game.

Next up was the top of the Hornets vaunted lineup, as they showed confidence and strategic play when leadoff hitter sophomore second baseman Jordan Elias hit a two-run single that gave the Hornets their first lead of the day.

The Pirates (18-9, 8-3) soon had Elias in a run down and it was time to make a tough decision, get the second out or stop the third run. The Pirates decided to let Elias have the extra base while attempting to get the game leading run, but Hornung slid into the plate before the low throw made it to the catchers’ glove.

“I was trying to put the ball in play and get the runners to score to get some pressure off our pitchers,” said Elias. “After that, we just built off that and kept scoring.”

Whitmer walked the next batter, and the game was never the same after that for the Pirates. What started as a defensive game crumbled, as the Hornets rattled the Pirates’ defense with hits up the middle between the shortstop and second baseman. Hornets freshman first baseman Veronica Moore drove in her 33rd RBI of the season with a double that made the score 4-2.

“The bats came alive in the fifth inning,” said co-head coach Marian “Speedy” Mendoza. “We were waiting, we knew the pitching wasn’t anything we haven’t seen all year. So for us, it was just getting timely hits and moving runners over and once our bats get going, they continue. Once we score one or two runs, we start scoring more runs.”

Hornets freshman center fielder Jianna Lopez sits back and looks to get a timely hit for the offense. (Matthew Gonzalez)

When the Pirates relieved Whitmer with a new pitcher, freshman Ruby Fidge, the Hornets pulled off a double steal after the Australian’s first pitch crossed the plate. With runners in scoring position, Fidge allowed a RBI fielder’s choice from freshman pinch hitter Angelina Granado, followed by a shallow RBI single from sophomore right fielder Coco Siono.

A hard hit triple by freshman left fielder Milene Mendoza capped off the final run of the Hornets seven-run fifth inning, making the score 7-2. When Mendoza slid into third for her third hit of the day and popped up, she screamed toward her dugout where her teammates matched her energy.

“I was just locked in today,” said Mendoza. “I wanted to get the team going, get them hyped, just get it started, get the rally going.”

The Hornets needed to close out the game that had been blown open from the fifth inning scoring barrage. As rain started to drizzle on the field, freshman starting pitcher Macy Brandl began to show signs of fatigue, walking the first two batters she faced. Having already pitched twice this week against the Pirates, the Hawaii University bound pitcher needed her teammates to help her close out the last two innings. The Hornets (21-3, 12-0) answered the call for help by catching two fly balls to end the game.

Hornets freshman catcher Bryce Shroyer hustles down the line trying to leg out an infield hit. (Matthew Gonzalez)

Brandl went a complete game, striking out three, walking a pair, and allowing seven hits with two earned runs.

“She said she wasn’t her sharpest today,” said Speedy Mendoza about Brandl. “She threw on Tuesday the full seven and then she came in yesterday to relieve Allyson Fuentes. So, she’d been used a little bit. We had Allyson warming up and we’re pretty confident with both our pitchers. They are very, very strong and they both support each other very well. So, I think anybody we have in the circle we’re going to do pretty well with.”

The Hornets continue atop the OEC standings with a seven-game winning streak. The Hornets have the weekend off before resuming play on Monday, April 8, at Fullerton College against Long Beach College (23-6, 13-1) for a makeup game starting at 3 p.m. The following day the Hornets will look to improve their undefeated record in OEC play with a three-game series against Santiago Canyon College.

“I think our team is just hot right now, they’re playing for each other,” Speedy Mendoza added. “They have a purpose and they’re really driven and want to keep giving it their all.”

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