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Believing in themselves, Hornets on doorstep of history

The Calipatria softball team believes they have what it takes to claim the program's first ever CIF Division championship.

POWAY, Calif. ( KYMA, KECY-TV ) - The last time the Calipatria girls softball team advanced to the CIF San Diego Section Division semifinals was in 2016. That was in Division IV under head coach Melissa Lerno. The Hornets lost in the semifinals putting an end to hopes of claiming the program's first ever CIF Division championship.

The Hornets made similar runs previous to 2016 under Lerno but again, always found the door closing on them while on the doorstep.

Fast forward to this season, the Hornets, playing Division V, are making another push to claim a CIF Division crown. Calipatria stands at 15-10 overall despite finishing 2-7 in Desert League play.

"We were pretty much in a DIII league," Calipatria Athletic Director and head softball coach Ted Hughes said. "We had Imperial and Calexico, and Palo Verde who is a D4 TEAM."

Hughes says despite being knocked around in league play, the tough competition better prepared his Hornets for the postseason.

"Calexico is just a beast to play," Hughes said. "They rocked us a couple times and it was kind of a wakeup call."

Calipatria entered the CIF San Diego Section Division V playoffs as the number five seed and their eyes were wide open. The Hornets took care of Castle Park in the play in round 21-5, then went on the road and defeated #4 seeded Mount Miguel 3-0 in the first round. In the second round, the Hornets fell to top seeded Foothills Christian on the road 2-1. A game the Knights won in the bottom of the seventh inning. Sent to the elimination bracket, the Hornets destroyed Francis Parker in Calipatria 17-1, sending the Hornets to the semifinals this afternoon in Poway against #2 seeded Maranatha Christian.

"I'm super excited because we had that tough loss last Saturday," Hughes said. "I was wondering how they'd respond and they responded well."

With a win at noon in Poway this afternoon, Calipatria will play again in the semifinals for a chance to reach Saturday's Division final, a tough task but one the Hornets are ready to handle.

"Honestly it's very exciting," Senior catcher Kylie Lyerly said. "I was a little nervous at first but the girls pulled through and I'm excited to see what we can do and I think, honestly, we can take it."

Hughes feels the same way but he says his girls need to believe in themselves.

"Sometimes I tell the girls they need to believe a little more," Hughes said. "They're great girls with great abilities. They struggle a little with that a little but I think we're getting there."

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Scott Gross

Scott Gross joins the KYMA team as the CBS 13 sports director and weather forecaster. Scott comes to the Desert Southwest all the way from Alaska where he covered the military and education beats for KTVA-TV & KTUU-TV.

Contact him at scott.gross@kecytv.com.

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