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Photo by Bruce Jacobsen


LANCASTER - This season the Marauder softball team is used to putting up big numbers.

AVC hit five more home runs in Tuesday's double header against College of the Canyons, but in what seems to be a recurring theme, the pitching had its problems. The Marauders were defeated 13-5 and 10-5 at the hands of the Cougars, dropping them to fourth place in the Western States Conference-Blue Division at Antelope Valley College.

This time the offense couldn't bail out the pitching for the Marauders. COC (10-1, 20-8) jumped out of the blocks fast in the first two innings and before fans could even settle with their popcorn and soda, The Cougars led 5-0 after two innings.

Trailing 6-0, AVC (14-16, 7-5) made things interesting in the bottom of the third inning by scoring five runs of its own, including long balls by Justeene Tamayo and Angelica Ochoa, which gave the Marauders some momentum.

However, the Cougars took AVC's best punch in the mouth and countered with seven runs in the top of the fourth inning and took complete control of the game. That inning for COC included seven runs, six hits, three walks and a passed ball.

"We just have to get the right hits at the right time. They (COC) did today," AVC's Dolly Stevens said. "Our pitching has been a big deal for us. We definitely have to minimize our walks, but I thought (Naelyse) Garcia did a great job pitching both games today. It's upsetting. There's no doubt we can bounce back. We know we have a really good team."

Offensively the Marauders match up with the best of them. They lead the state in home runs (35) well above Sierra College (28) and rank No. 6 in batting average (.375), however, AVC pitching ranks third from the bottom in walks (170) and 67th in ERA (6.13).

Garcia shut down the Cougars for the first four innings of the second game. During that strecth she allowed no hits and a home run by Priscella Panizo in the bottom of the fourth inning gave the Marauders a 2-0 lead.

Things began to unravel for AVC, the final three innings. The Cougars got their bats going and scored their 10 runs in the final three frames. A second home run by Panizo was too little, too late.

COC's ace Ashley Russo pitched both games. Earlier this season AVC couldn't figure out the Russo puzzle as the Cougars won 4-1 at College of the Canyons. On Tuesday, Russo (11-5) wasn't as sharp but still was able to pick up both wins. She has defeated the Marauders three times this season.

AVC trails COC in the standings by 3 1/2 games and percentage points behind Bakersfield College and L.A. Valley College, two teams that the Marauders have manhandled this season.