Non-league games help Oxnard improve

Softball team is shaking hands.
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© Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Non-league softball games the week before Easter are supposed to provide a team with valuable lessons it can use later in more meaningful contests.

Oxnard High passed with flying colors Wednesday in a 7-1 victory at Ventura. Meanwhile, Ventura’s lesson was a bit more painful.

Three Oxnard players hit home runs in a five-run fifth inning while Ventura had four hits in the bottom of the third, but scored only one run.

Ventura (5-8) had managed to keep Oxnard (10-4) scoreless and limited to two hits through the first four innings, but the Yellowjackets’ Xochitl Coronado led off the top of the fifth with a homer to left field. Ventura pitcher Becca Bernard (6-6) got the next two batters out, but then walked Mia Lewis and gave up a single to Aly Hampton before Demi Meza belted a three-run homer to center and Ariana Lopez followed with another blast to left in the fenceless outfield.

It was the fourth homer of the season for Lopez, who said she approached the non-league game as a chance to improve her game.

“I personally focus on what I have to try to fix,” the third baseman said, “almost like it’s a practice. I try to focus on what the next play is and what am I going to do to help my team.”

While Oxnard coach Paul Tinoco was pleased all the offense in the fifth, he would have been happier if the Yellowjackets hadn’t waited quite that long to start swinging the bats.

“Lately, we’ve been slow starting,” Tinoco said. “It’s kind of killing us. Once we get to those better teams, I told them we’re going to have to step it up.”

Lopez had three hits and Meza two. Pitcher Alexis Edwards (8-2) struck out six and walked two.

While Oxnard was getting the most it could from what offense it showed, Ventura got the minimum out of the maximum in the third.

With two outs, Samantha Hernandez singled to center, starting a string of four consecutive hits for the Cougars as Jessica Torrez and Eva Esakoff followed suit. A single to left by Kristin Lopez scored Hernandez, but Bernard grounded out to end the inning.

Ventura also left the bases loaded in the fifth inning and hit into a double play in the sixth.

“Playing Division 2 teams makes our team better,” said Felix Cortez, co-coach of the Division 4 Cougars. “From a coaching standpoint we see our weaknesses and, obviously, some strengths, but teams like this bring it out in you.”

Cortez said it was difficult to take advantage of Oxnard in that one-run, four-hit third.

“They’re so aggressive both offensively and defensively, they attacked our singles,” he said, “and we weren’t able to advance more than one base at a time.”

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