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Jill Bishop came to Orange Coast College from La Quinta High School last year with hopes of playing third base.

But before she had even signed up for classes, she knew those hopes were in doubt. During registration, she saw Becky Elcock, who had played third for Santiago High and wanted to play at OCC.

Bishop also was aware that sophomore Kami Bigler was returning as the leading candidate to play third for Coach Nick Trani.

So Bishop decided to pitch, something she had been doing since she was 6.

But OCC also had a sophomore--Alisha Nelson--coming back. So Bishop spent her freshman season as an understudy to Nelson, who set the OCC single-season record for victories with 24. Bishop went 9-1.

But this season, Bishop moved to the front line and is a major reason OCC (26-13) is playing in the State tournament Friday at Riverside Community College.

She is 17-10 with 10 shutouts and has an earned-run average of 0.90.

Bishop pitched two shutouts in the regional playoffs as OCC upset Antelope Valley on the Marauders' home field twice in two days last weekend.

At Antelope Valley, Bishop faced a talented team with a loud crowd doing its best to distract her.

But she was able to overcome it thanks to her increased time spent this season working with OCC pitching coach John Campbell on improving her concentration.

Bishop has also found help from television. She and her boyfriend, Bill Snyder, are fans of the Atlanta Braves and while watching games she studies the way pitchers handle themselves on the mound.

"I've really learned to focus," Bishop, 20, said. "Now, I only see the glove. It was always my biggest problem before. I let my mind wander a couple of times this season and it hurt me. I've really worked on it."

Another benefit of Bishop's improved mental approach is her ability to deal with the weak offense that plagued OCC much of this season. The Pirates are hitting .199 and were shut out in eight of Bishop's 10 losses.

But the Pirates have been at their best in the playoffs, getting 23 hits in three games. Trani hopes the trend continues Friday when the Pirates open against Sacramento City at 1 o'clock. This is the third consecutive year that OCC has reached the State tournament under Trani.


Cypress, which won the Orange Empire Conference, is making its fifth consecutive appearance in the State tournament under Coach Brad Pickler. He has a postseason mark of 24-8 in the last six years.

Cypress (47-18) plays Napa Valley (41-11) at 1 p.m. Friday.

San Joaquin Delta (35-5) plays Long Beach (33-9) and Palomar (46-4) plays West Valley (31-12) at 3 p.m. in the other first-round games of the double-elimination tournament.

The first-round winners meet at 6 and 8 p.m. Friday. The winners' bracket final is scheduled at 8 p.m. Saturday and the title game is 2 p.m. Sunday.

Pickler said his team has the potential to be better than his 1991 team that won the State title. The Chargers' pitchers are Kim Taylor (16-6), Dena Villasenor (15-4) and Leigh Sager (12-7).

Kerry Moloney is hitting .363 with 36 RBIs. Jennifer Johnson hit .336 and Carrie Frederick is at .305.

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