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Photo by Cara Heise.
Photo by Cara Heise.

Comets in state final after rallying past Cerritos

WALNUT, CA. (5/20/2023) – Overcoming a 3-1 deficit, Palomar College rallied for three runs in the fifth inning and added an insurance run in the sixth to post a 5-3 victory over Cerritos in Saturday's third-round winners-bracket contest at the California Community College Athletic Association State Softball Tournament at Mt. San Antonio College. 

The Comets (43-1) will be playing for the sixth state championship in program history on Sunday against nine-time state champion Cypress, which won a pair of losers-bracket games Saturday against College of San Mateo, 12-4, and Cerritos, 5-1. Sunday's title game is set for 12 noon. 

Cerritos (33-16) took a 3-1 lead over the Comets after three innings on the strength of two home runs by Jazmine Macias. Palomar scored its first run in the bottom of the second on a two-out single by sophomore center fielder Cadee Herrmann, who stole second base and scored when a grounder to second by freshman right fielder Faith Steffany was thrown away for an error. 

A solo home run by Macias in the third gave the Falcons a two-run lead again, but Palomar mounted another two-out rally in the fifth, beginning when sophomore catcher Ellison Hazlett was hit by a pitch. Sophomore shortstop Elisa Haas followed with a walk, and Hermann connected on a single to left-center field to score Hazlett. 

Sophomore left fielder Jonessa Hebreo hit a single to right field to score Haas with the game-tying run, and sophomore first baseman Allyson Amato followed with her first hit of the tournament, a single up the middle to score Herrmann for a 4-3 Comets lead. 

Freshman right fielder Faith Steffany started the sixth inning with a leadoff single to right-center, and she advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore second baseman Malachy Russell-Millen. After taking third on a wild pitch, Steffany scored on a single up the middle by freshman third baseman Itzell De Los Rios to stretch the Palomar lead to 5-3. 

Winning pitcher India Caldwell walked the leadoff batter in the top of the seventh but retired the next three batters to notch her 30th win of the season against one loss. She allowed five hits and two walks while striking out five batters. 

Caldwell was supported by a 12-hit attack which included six hits from the bottom third of the Comets' batting order. Herrmann provided three hits, Hebreo had two and Hass added a single. Steffany contributed a pair of singles to give her six hits in three state tournament games.