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Hilmar softball takes exit in NorCals, reflects on dream season
Hilmar softball
Hilmar's Jenna Gomes was one of five Yellowjackets to be named to this year's All-TVL team (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

The Hilmar Yellowjackets softball team saw their 2022 season come to an end on Tuesday night after dropping the opening game of the NorCal regionals to the Monterey Dores by a score of 10-0. The Dores were led by star freshman pitcher Ella Myers, who tossed four shutout innings. Myers also had the help of her offense, who scored five runs in the very first inning.

After the game, Hilmar head coach Paul Willis spoke highly of Myers’ pitching performance.

“She is a really good pitcher,” Willis said. “She kept us off balance and every time we did get something going, she was able to either get a strikeout or a groundout.”

As Willis alluded to, the Yellowjackets offense was able to get runners on base but made nothing of it. He explained that it was their plan all playoffs to score early and put the pressure on the opposing team, but the roles became reversed against the #2 ranked Monterey team. After the game, Willis was given the tough task of addressing his team after having their season ended. He emphasized the fact that the abrupt finish is something all but a handful of teams in the entire state must experience.

“I just told them I was proud for their efforts throughout the year and that they are not defined by one game or losing the last game of the year, because in in reality, only one team can say they didn't lose the last game of the year,” Willis explained.

There was also an abundance of mixed emotions considering that this year’s All-TVL team was announced just hours before the game. With five players named to the team, Hilmar was able to tie for most players to receive the honor. The five All-TVL players were pitcher Jenna Gomes, left fielder Emily Cogswell, center fielder Jayme Soares, third baseman Abby Blevins and second baseman Camryn Mattos. Willis had much to say about each of the players, giving them the highest praise, starting with his ace pitcher.

“Jenna is a competitor, and she works really hard,” he said. “She has a really calm effect on our team. It's a very calming atmosphere around her and that calms the team down. She was a team leader.”

When it came to Cogswell, he was proud of the fact that she was able to learn on the fly throughout the season and transform herself to be one of his most dominant players.

“Emily hadn't played a lot of varsity softball and she was learning the game early in the year,” Willis explained. “Once she figured it out, she was unstoppable. She found a home out in left field. When she started hitting, it just completed the package. It was really exciting to see her develop throughout the year. It was just fun to watch her get better every day.”

Cogswell played alongside Soares in the outfield throughout the whole year. Willis spoke about her impact on both sides of the ball.

“Defensively in center field, Jayme’s real solid,” he said. “She's got a lot of speed, so she takes up a lot of ground, but offensively she was right at the top of the league in batting average and getting on base. She was our catalyst. When she gets on base, she makes things happen.”

When speaking about Blevins, Willis applauded her efforts to adjust to third base during the season.

“Abby had to find her spot and she finally found her home at third base,” he explained. “Defensively, she was lights out. She can also hit with power. She worked really hard and she improved throughout the year.”

Across the infield was Mattos, another player who had to bounce around to find her perfect role.

“As a freshman, Camryn plays a really good second base. She could hit for power and she could hit for base hits. We moved her around the line up trying to find a spot for her and she ended up being a number four hitter,” Willis said.

Willis also made sure to praise all the other ladies on his team, as it took a full team effort to make it as far as they did.

“It was an honor to coach them all this year. They gave me everything that they had,” Willis said. “They worked hard, and it was obviously disappointing to lose, but as you look back on the season, they're going to see that they had accomplished a lot and had a great year. I've coached a lot of good teams at Hilmar, but this team seemed to be able to put it all together.”