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Cypress Hoping History Repeats


HUNTINGTON BEACH — In 1991, the Cypress softball team used a one-run, second-round victory over Sacramento City College to advance to the semifinals of the California Community College Softball Championships and eventually win the state title.

So, when Coach Brad Pickler's team defeated Sacramento City, 3-2, in the second round Friday to advance to the semifinals against Palomar, he wasn't afraid to concede he believes in rituals.

"When it comes to softball, I'm very superstitious," Pickler said. "And I don't mess with a routine."

Like the 1991 tournament, Golden West is the host, and Cypress is seeded second in the South. The Chargers won their first two games on the same fields and Pickler has planted his team in the same dugouts it used in 1991.

With so many similarities, it's no surprise Pickler feels comfortable.

"We're right where we want to be," he said. "It's a huge advantage to win the first two games."

In this year's second-round game, however, Sacramento City (60-7), the North's top-seeded team, gave Cypress (64-4) a seventh-inning scare and threatened to ruin the Chargers' hopes of repeating its 1991 performance.

With one out in the inning and Cypress leading, 3-0, Laura Ellis drove in Jennifer McGuire with a single off second baseman Autumn Gwinner's glove and Kerry Allen followed with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Megan Correia and closing the gap to 3-2.

But starting pitcher Jaime Wilkes (36-3) settled down and forced Ann Clark to ground to first, stranding a runner at second to end the game.

Cypress had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Rachelle Vandiver scored on Michelle Balon's groundout and increased the lead in the third inning when Vandiver scored on a squeeze bunt by Aimee Weathers. Gwinner also scored from second base on the play when Clark's throw sailed over catcher Shauna Briggs' head.

Wilkes held the Panthers to four hits, struck out one and walked one.

"Jaime hit her spots and threw a lot of strikes," Pickler said. "It wasn't her best game, but I think she did great."

Picker is already thinking of keeping another superstition alive if the Chargers defeat Palomar in the semifinals at 7 tonight.

"If we get to the championship game, we're going to jump into the third base dugout," he said.

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