Softball: Corsairs drop the ball in final inning

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In sports it's not how you start the game, it's how you finish.

The Santa Monica College Corsairs found that out the hard way in the final inning of a battle with the Bakersfield College Renegades, a game that had everything riding on the final out in a critical conference game Thursday afternoon.

With the score tied at 4-4 and one out to go in the seventh inning, the Lady Corsairs all but had the game locked up, except a costly defensive error that should have closed the game sealed SMC's fate.

Following the error in the outfield, the Renegades put runners on first and second with two outs, setting the stage for Erin Huckaby who knocked a two RBI dagger that ripped victory from the Lady Corsairs clutches.

SMC Head Coach Daniel Soto attributed Thursday's loss to a history of slow starts for the Lady Corsairs. The Renegades scored three runs in the first two innings while SMC struggled to catch up.

"We continue to not look ready when we come into games, we take three to four innings to get into games," said Soto. "We have to get better at being ready to go from the opening bell. We’re just not and because of that we’re playing catch up." The loss to Bakersfield leaves the Corsairs with a 10-9 overall record, and 2-2 conference record.

Offensive standout Christine "CP3" Padilla was disappointed with her play on Thursday despite hitting a double, stealing a base, and scoring a run. She was the last at bat for the Lady Corsairs with two runners on, and took the loss personally.

"I’m disappointed with the last at bat but I gave it my all and that’s all I can say." said Padilla. This is the second game this season the Lady Corsairs have dropped in the seventh inning, but Soto still has hopes for his burgeoning program.

"Defensively our infield has been playing lights out all season long and our outfield needs to catch up." said Soto. Moving forward with the season, Soto hopes to bring a new energy to his group of girls that hasn't been seen in SMC softball in recent years.

"It’s frustrating, but we’re still learning how to win," he said. "The girls are still trying to figure out how good they are." The Lady Corsairs will need to start closing out conference games if they hope to make a push for the playoffs this year. The team is 3-1 in tournament play and has potential to be a contender in the conference under Soto's tutelage.

"We’ve given away three or four games that we should’ve won, not could’ve, straight up should’ve won," he said "We’re an average team right now, but I think we’re a good team," he said. The Lady Corsairs next game will be against College of the Canyons Thursday March 20, 2:30 p.m. at John Adams Middle School.