SFT: Caras, Portese power SBCC

Briana Portese and Amanda Caras both went 3-for-3 on Thursday with two extra-base hits each, powering SBCC to a 10-2 softball win over Oxnard in five innings.

Portese drove in three runs with a single, a double and a two-run home run in the third that boosted the lead to 7-2. It was the second homer of the year for Portese, a sophomore center fielder who raised her average to .319.

“I saw the ball really well before I came up in the third,” said Portese. “Coach Bill (Hilliard, an assistant coach) knows that I get a little anxious when I get up to bat, so he knows exactly what to say to calm me down.

“I had two strikes and I don’t get nervous when there’s two strikes. We’re still crossing our fingers and hoping we make the playoffs.”

The Vaqueros (20-16, 11-5) won for the fourth time in five games but had their postseason hopes dashed when Hancock beat Cuesta 6-2 to secure its first WSC title since 1998. SBCC could tie Cuesta (13-5) for second by sweeping Moorpark in its final doubleheader on Tuesday at home but the Cougars own the tiebreaker.

Santa Barbara has won the season series over four WSC teams, losing only to Cuesta two games to one.

Caras had two doubles and also drove in three runs. Shortstop Alice Cen was 2-4 with two RBIs and Alexandra Abbott was 2-3 with two doubles and two runs. The Vaqueros collected 14 hits, including a season-high seven doubles.

“That was a great display of hitting,” said coach Paula Congleton. “We were focused and did a good job of keeping our hands high and driving the gaps with line drives. We hit several balls off the fence and we got production from our entire lineup.”

Celeste Acosta held Oxnard (4-32, 2-14) to two runs on four singles. She struck out three and walked two.

Nicole Bennett pinch-hit in the fifth and delivered an RBI triple down the right-field line. Cen ended the game with a one-out RBI single up the middle.

The Vaqueros rapped three doubles in the first inning and took a 3-0 lead on run-scoring hits by Christal Vierra, Caras and Portese. They made it 5-2 in the second when Cen drove in Abbott with a double to left and came around to score on an error.