The top two softball teams in the Trans Valley League faced each other on Tuesday when Hilmar High hosted undefeated Hughson High. As was the case last time these two teams met on the softball field, the Huskies (8-0 TVL) shut out the Yellowjackets (5-3 TVL), winning 7-0.
“You’ve got to play a near perfect game to beat Hughson,” Hilmar’s head coach Paul Willis said. “They have all the aspects of the game going for them.”
One of those aspects, and perhaps the most important, was Hughson’s pitching game led my junior Katelyn Harden. Inning after inning Harden stared down Hilmar batters and delivered strike out after strike out. The few hits that Harden did allow were quickly recovered by her Husky teammates in an afternoon performance one would expect from the number one team in the TVL.
“Once she gets a strike against you the odds of her throwing you out increases,” Willis said of Harden.
With its offense outmatched by Hughson, Hilmar had to rely on its defense to get the job done. The ‘Jackets’ defense faltered early, however, as they allowed a couple of walks in the first inning that led to Hughson runs. Hilmar’s defense held strong for the next four innings but the Huskies found themselves on the scoreboard once again in the fifth inning when a Jessica Garcia triple coupled with a Hilmar error led to three runs. Hughson scored twice more in the seventh inning to finish things off and remain unbeaten.
“They’re undefeated for a reason,” Willis said.
With four more TVL games left in the season Hilmar now has its sight set on second place and a playoff berth. To do so the ‘Jackets need key performances from pitcher Kasidi Barcelos and the heavy hitting Jazzlyn Ayala. Hilmar plays Modesto Christian High today at home in what is essentially a must win game.
“They’ve got some good pitching and some good hitters,” Willis said. “It will be interesting to see how we respond after our loss to Hughson.”