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IVC ready for stretch run in PCC

April 06, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

With six games remaining in the Pacific Coast Conference, the Imperial Valley College softball team is undoubtedly entering the most crucial stretch of its season.

IVC is 5-4 in the PCC and in sole possession of third place — half a game ahead of San Diego Mesa. IVC also is a game and one-half behind Grossmont and three and one-half games behind undefeated Palomar.

The Arabs are seven games over .500 with a 17-10 overall record and are in a position to make a run at the postseason.


While the overall record isn't too shabby and third place in conference isn't anything to be ashamed of, what's most impressive is how IVC has gotten to where it is. With seven freshmen and only four sophomores on the team, the Arabs have had relative success this year without any one defined leader on the team. And even without any real leaders on the team, IVC still has been able to win on a regular basis, especially as of late, winning four of its last five games.

"We're tied for third place right now, we have a 17-10 overall record and I don't really think that a lack of leadership has really hurt us so far," said Arab coach Jill Lerno. "We've had some really close games this year that we've lost, but I don't think a lack of leadership was the reason we lost.

"Last year, I thought we had a lot of leaders on the team and we ended up taking fourth place," said Lerno. "This year, no, we don't have one dominant leader, but we're still able to win. I think every girl on this team is a leader in their own way. They just express it differently."

The way the Arab players have been expressing their leadership so far is by example. Offensively, sophomores Olga Noris and Adela Green are among the leaders in batting average for the season with Noris in 15th place with a .375 average and Green in 20th with a .320. On the mound, freshman pitcher Maria Hansen-Perez is third in conference with a 1.44 ERA.

Coming off a near two-week layoff since its last live action in the San Diego City Tournament, IVC will return to conference action Tuesday as it hosts perennial conference champion Palomar at 1 p.m.

While the task at hand will be a difficult one, IVC players know one game will not make or break the season and maintaining their hold on third place and making a run at second is what they will be fighting for the rest of the way.

"What we're going to try and do is play together and play as a team. Defensively, we've been playing pretty good lately and we just have to keep that up the rest of the way," said 19-year-old sophomore Jenny Burgos. "I really feel that we've been playing pretty good so far this year and being in third place in conference is a pretty good position to be in."

To make the playoffs, the Arabs would be guaranteed a spot in the postseason if they were to finish in the top two in conference. If IVC finishes third in the PCC, it could make the playoffs as a wildcard, depending on its overall record.

"Right now, I think we're playing pretty good as a team. We're hitting the ball pretty good and we're playing solid defense. I really would like to take second place in conference and I do think that is possible, we just need to keep working harder," said 19-year-old freshman Mercy Gonzalez.

Added 19-year-old freshman Heather Aguilar: "With six games left in the season, I think we'll end up doing pretty good the rest of the way. Even though we really don't have leaders on this team, I think we'll be OK. If we can play solid offense and defense the rest of the season, I think everything will work out for us."

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