Tuesday marked the beginning of preseason play for Pitman’s varsity softball team and the second preseason game for Hilmar High.
Coming off a historic season just a year ago Pitman had high expectations but their youth was evident in their first official contest after Hilmar’s experience topped the Pride in what became a five-inning mercy-rule victory.
Hilmar starting pitcher Madison Aguiniga, who is cousins with Pitman’s Morgan Aguiniga, had a stellar afternoon after the freshman pitched a complete game shutout while striking out six en route to an 11-0 win over Pitman.
“It was pitching for us today,” said Hilmar head coach Kara Olesen. “Madison (Aguiniga) pitched clean spots the entire time and I had our other pitcher warming up just in case because I know Pitman can hit and we didn’t need it just yet.”
“Hilmar swung the ball well and made contact and this is only the third total day we have had the whole infield since girls are just coming in from basketball and moving people around,” said Pitman head coach Joe Lewis. “Plus we are young.”
The Pride started three sophomores and a freshman in the infield and their inexperienced showed, despite the talent level, after committing eight errors for the game.
Offensively, the Pride only managed to accumulate three hits for the game with Lehua DeLeon notching two of those hits.
“We are young but talented and they know what needs to be worked on,” said Lewis. “More cohesiveness in the infield and swinging the bats, we are a better hitting team than we showed. We were just looking at a lot of pitches. When you get behind at varsity level you are in trouble whoever you are facing.”
Starting pitcher Aguiniga was hot right from the start after the freshman retired six of the first seven batters faced, including five strikeouts in the first two innings.
Although Pitman seemed out of sync throughout the game, committing uncommon errors for a team of its caliber, it was Hilmar which took advantage of the miscues by scoring as much as they could and quickly.
It took only one inning to get things rolling for the Yellowjackets, which went on a five-run rally in the second that began with an RBI sac-fly then Miranda Gray followed with an RBI double. Katelyn Canella had an RBI single to end the rally and go up 5-0 with two outs.
Hilmar scored a run in the bottom of the third and then tacked on five runs in the fourth inning to secure an 11-run lead and by this point it looked like Pitman’s defense was decimated, committing multiple errors in the fourth inning alone.
DeLeon had two of the Pride’s three hits and was 2-for-3 for the game with a triple to lead off the game.
Morgan Amarante was 2-for-2 with a double and a stolen base. McKenzie Martinez was 3-for-3 with two RBI, two doubles and a triple. Kassidy Mendes, Sarah Hughes and Canella each drove in two runs.
Aguiniga pitched five innings, struck out six and allowed no runs. She also added an RBI.
“I think the win is huge… I mean hopefully not an ego boost,” said Olesen, “but a morale booster because we always go back to film and see what we need to work on and I say whether it’s good or bad then we need to go to work tomorrow and earn it every inning.”
Pitman and Hilmar will both compete at the Waterford tournament which is scheduled to take place at the Rainbow fields in Tracy from Wednesday to Saturday against opponents yet to be determined and times yet to be announced.