By C. Harold Pierce
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ophomore outfielder Heather Robertson steps to the plate in the final inning against Orange Coast College with two runners on base. The pressure is on, but all Robertson can hear are the cheers of her teammates.
Standing on dugout benches, clapping their hands and stomping on the ground, the team rallies together while belting out a gritty rendition of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.”
“I like the way you work it, you got to bag it, bag it up,” they scream, drowning out the crack of Robertson’s bat when she smacks the ball over the fences for a two-RBI walk-off home run.
“Cheering is one of the best things that can happen in softball. When the whole team is down, it carries into everything you do. A lot of teams will start out loud and then go really quiet, and that’s when you just know from there that you’re going to take over,” Robertson said.
The Dons don’t have cheerleaders, a spirit squad or even many fans rooting for them in the stands. But the ball players don’t sweat it.
The squad creates their own cheers, supplies their own spirit, and when the bleachers are empty, most passersby would not know it. The team makes so much noise they can be heard clear across campus.
At-bat cheers are part of fast-pitch, and most softball squads swipe chants they hear from other teams while on road games, Co-Head Coach Jessica Rapoza said.
“Ever since you’re 7-or-8-years-old, you hear the cheers,” Rapoza said. But it’s not likely that 7-year-old girls are adapting cheers from rapper YG’s lyrics and cleaning them up for the field.
“We have lots of good cheers that pick us up and keep us focused on the game. It helps a lot at-bat. You feel like your team is there for you,” catcher Annie Dowling said.