By C. Harold Pierce
Sophomore Sabrina Perez steps to the plate, runs her bat along the dirt and squares up. Goldenwest College pitcher Kelly Combs throws one right down the pipe and Perez connects with the sweet spot of her barrel, smashing the ball over the fence Feb. 26 for a three-RBI home run in the first inning.
Then she did it again in the fifth. It’s nothing new for Perez. She owns the college’s single season record with 11 home runs in 2013. This year, she’s crushed a team-leading six, amassing 27 RBIs in 24 games. Two were mercy victories
“My job that I wanted to achieve was to get a rally going for my team, and when I hit it out, I thought ‘yes, I did something good’, ” Perez said.
The squad has made a habit of forcing mercy victories this season. Their 20-0 shutout against the Rustlers March 21 is the third conference mercy in March. The team has 11 early finishes so far in 2014.
“We play a really, really tough schedule and our opponents do a really good job, too. I just think that our offense is very potent, and if we consistently make the defense make plays, we have the tools to be able to score,” Dons Co-Head Coach Jessica Rapoza said.
The game was called at the top of the fifth inning after the Rustlers failed to score a run off freshman Kirstin Gutierrez.
She pitched five scoreless innings of two-hit ball, striking out three and walking none.
“We have been able to do this with a couple wins this year. We put up a lot of runs and what’s made us so successful is focusing on our offense to take as much pressure off the pitcher,” left fielder Emily Whitecavage said.
The Rustlers mercy marked the second 20-run performance for the Dons after whipping Orange Coast College 24-6 on the road in February. That game lasted six innings.
Scoring runs is the best way to thank a pitcher for a good performance, Rapoza said.
“It feels a lot different when your pitcher is out there trying to throw a 1-0 ball game or if she has a three or four-run lead. It makes you feel free as a pitcher to be able to hit your spots and not feel that you have to be so perfect,” Rapoza said.