The Long Beach City College softball teams has been scoring runs at will so far in April play. Despite the recent offensive outbursts the squad has experienced, the Vikings took to a new familiar approach that has been engraved within them since the beginning of the season – lights out pitching. That's what freshman starter Alissa Cienfuegos (Carson, CA) produced in a crucial, 3-1 conference victory over the Pasadena City College Lancers on the Viking Softball Field this Friday evening.
Cienfuegos was virtually unhittable in her 17th start of the season by allowing just two hits in her ninth complete-game outing. Despite one of the knocks going as a solo bomb, Cienfuegos cruised through the Lancers offense with ease leading to career-high 11 strikeouts. On two separate occasions, Cienfuegos fanned the side. Her strikeout total bumped up to 90 on the season, which ranks 12th in the state. Furthermore, she lowered her ERA to 2.85 and earned her ninth win of the season.
The bats were timid for the Viking's, but a two-run bottom of the second inning highlighted the offensive train.
After freshman right fielder Alijah Vega (Bellflower, CA) led off the inning with a single to left field and then promptly stole second, freshman first baseman Julia Juarez (Long Beach, CA) drove her in with a double down the right-field line. Freshman designated player Vanessa Montanez (Lakewood, CA) later drove in freshman pinch runner Lauren Blevins (Downey, CA) via sacrifice fly to cap the two-run spurt.
The third Vikings' run came on an errant throwing error by the catcher on an attempted back pick to third base, plating Juarez en route to the 3-1 victory.
Vega and Juarez were responsible for the majority of the offensive stir by going a combined 4-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored at the dish.
The Vikings currently hold a three-game winning streak. While the streak is small, it certainly is significant with the playoffs on the horizon.
"I think we have finally caught a rhythm," explained Head Coach Megan Martinez, who is flourishing in her second season at the helm of the Vikings program. "The chemistry right now is really, really working well for us."
Long Beach has weapons from top to bottom and Martinez is certain that this squad can impose a serious threat in postseason action.
"We are really deep on our bench and our pitchers are really coming through. Everyone saw what Alissa [Cienfuegos] did for us today."
Cienfuegos, a likely First-Team All-Conference member with MVP numbers, has been a workhorse for the Vikings and has displayed talents in every aspect of the game.
"She works really hard. Her work ethic is incredible. She is always the first one on the field and the last one off the field. She is confident in what she has going for her and the offense has helped her."
On the rare occasion that the pitching is not present, the offense has been on point. The team boasts an impressive .314 batting average and they have displayed top-notch sticks from the top of the order to the bottom of the order.
"We have been focusing on every single hitter in practice. Slowing down the mechanics and hitters one through fifteen are doing a great job."
With just four regular season games left, the Vikings remain poised despite the looming pressures of playoffs.
"We are not thinking about anything other than the game that we have coming up. Right now, we are playing one pitch, one inning at a time."
The Vikings (20-15, 5-2 SCC) look to keep the momentum going on Thursday, April 14th as they play host to the Cerritos College Falcons in a battle for the second place in the South Coast Conference – South standings. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.