Two of the best teams in the state squared off in a doubleheader that saw Mt. SAC Softball taking one of two games at home against the Cypress College Chargers on Saturday, April 14, opening up with a 9-2 win before ending the day with a 6-3 loss.
The Mounties looked to build on a five-game winning streak heading into the matchup with the top-ranked Chargers.
Mt. SAC capped off the inning with another run scored by Haliburton off a single by Amanda Esquivel.
Banales added another run to the boards in the second inning with a single that brought Felina home to score.
After Cypress' two runs in the third, the Mounties answered back with two emphatic home runs in the fourth inning by Adriana Ramirez and later Felina to put Mt. SAC up 8-2.
Granado added to the late-game fireworks from the bats with another home run in the sixth inning, securing the 9-2 win for the Mounties in the first game.
"Both defense and offense were great," Wheeler said.
"I believe we came in with a lot of fight due to them beating us multiple times last year."
While the first game cemented Mt. SAC's dangerous at-bat ability, their second game against the Chargers was more about a test of discipline.
Gutierrez started things off strong for the Mounties again with a big double to bring home Santiago but a rough start to the fifth inning put Mt. SAC in a 5-1 hole.
The Mounties tried to salvage the inning as Gutierrez scored off a single by Esquivel to bring Mt. SAC within three.
However, Infinity Laufou's double in the top of the sixth inning added another run for Cypress, which the Mounties answered back with another strong at-bat by Gutierrez to score Granado in and cut the Chargers' lead in half.
Ultimately, Cypress pitcher Hailey Hoffman put a stop to any hope of a Mt. SAC comeback in the bottom of the seventh and secured the 6-3 win for the Chargers.
"We came out and dominated the first game from the start with our bats but the second game was more of a lesson learned than a loss. We seemed to have cruised a little bit and they ended up beating us in one inning out of the seven," Mt. SAC pitcher Jessica Olvera said.
"This showed how dominant we can be and how capable we are of beating the best team in the state; It's just a matter of playing our game and pressing every pitch."
Despite the loss in the second game, the Mounties took the result in stride, looking to learn from both games and grow as a team heading into the remaining matchups this month.
"As a team, we realized how important it is to be selfless and put the team first because at the end of the day, it's a team photo instead of an individual face on the championship banner," Olvera said.
"We have more confidence as a team now and know what we're capable of."
With just seven games to go in the regular season, the 27-6 (7-2 in conference) Mounties will look to defend their spot atop the South Coast Conference North standings as they take on Rio Hondo at home on Tuesday, April 17, with first pitch at 3 p.m.
"Although we lost the second game, we definitely got a lot out of that game as well," Wheeler said.
"It taught us that we can't cruise against a good team like we did. We'll work on that in practice on Monday and come out strong against Rio Hondo."