Behind the play of two All-Conference players, the Dons made a late-season bull-rush with four straight wins to bolt into the playoffs for the second year in a row.
“We had high expectations of making the playoffs and everything unfolded the way we wanted it to,” Co-Head Coach Jessica Rapoza said.
The team earned a 13-seed in the 16-team field with an overall record of 26-14. The Dons conference winning percentage is .571 (12-9), finishing fourth behind Cypress, Riverside and Saddleback College.
Freshman infielder Keila Tenorio was named First Team All-Orange Empire Conference.
Sophomore catcher Kristen Hooper was picked for the Second Team All-OEC, becoming the only All-Conference catcher.
Tenorio hit .391 in 115 at bats, leading the team in doubles (9), triples (4) and RBIs (26).
On defense, She made starts at first base, shortstop and third base.
“I think it is just a testament to how hard she works,” Rapoza said. “She is one of the first people at practice everyday, and one of the last to leave.”
Rapoza believes Hooper’s defensive value made her an easy choice for the honors.
“She had RBIs in her glove,” Rapoza said. “She saved a lot of runs by throwing out and picking off runners.”
Battery mate and twin sister Kaitlyn Hooper reaffirms Rapoza’s thoughts on Kristen’s glove.
“She is a stud,” sophomore pitcher Kaitlyn said. “It was great having a catcher like her because there is no one better.”
Kaitlyn picked up 20 of the team’s 26 wins, throwing 187.2 innings while appearing in 38 games.
“She is a warrior. She doesn’t get rattled,” Rapoza said. “She is very mentally strong and that is what you need from your pitcher.”
Despite the odds, Rapoza believes that her team is strong enough to go deep into postseason play.
“Three more weeks is what we are looking for,” Rapoza said.