The Hilmar High varsity softball team started off the season right, winning three of four preseason games, but found themselves in a rough patch during Wednesday's contest against Mariposa.
Last year's D-VI Sac-Joaquin Section winners in Mariposa came in with a strong pitching duo in Leah Lafata and Violet Matlock, who made it tough on the Yellowjackets despite a solid showing from the home team.
By the end of the game, the seven errors by Hilmar had cost them in the late stages as they fell, 7-2.
“I think today we just started too slow, that is what I told our girls,” said Hilmar head coach Kara Olesen. “Our time was off balance and slow and we were just not ready and I can see it happening coming off a big win over Livingston.”
Hilmar dominated Livingston, 20-1, the day before, but this game was a different story.
“Obviously, the pitching works hard on the other team but it was not what it was today and you come in and it's complete opposites and it throws you for a loop,” said Olesen.
Last year, Mariposa crushed Hilmar in a 13-3 mercy-rule win and the Yellowjackets seemed a bit nervous about facing the Grizzlies, despite hanging with them for over five innings before Mariposa took full advantage of the Hilmar miscues.
“The funny thing is we spoke about them [Mariposa] really beating us last year but that doesn't matter because we are a completely different team,” said Olesen. “But I think today it got to them a little bit, and I think we got past it during our talk, there are only good things to come.”
Freshman starting pitcher Madison Aguiniga started off well for Hilmar, retiring the first six batters faced.
After going three up and three down, Mariposa got their first run of the game with a Sam Matlock RBI double with two outs to go up 1-0.
Aguiniga retired the next batter and went on to strike out three in the next two innings, before Mariposa went on a two-out rally.
In the bottom of the fifth, Katelyn Canella struck an RBI triple blooper that landed in front of the right fielder, scoring Brielle Balswick with two outs to make it 1-1.
Lafata wasn't fazed and struckout the next batter, setting up the longest half inning of the afternoon.
Mariposa went on to score four runs in the top of the sixth followed by a two-run seventh to take a 7-1 lead going into the final half of the game.
Miranda Gray opened the inning with a single and two batters later, the bases were loaded.
Canella was up and drove in the second run to make it 7-2, but Mariposa was able to get the force out at third and the next two batters for Hilmar got out ending the rally and the game.
“I told the girls, you win every inning, that is how you win a game, that is what hurt us though, the slow start,” said Olesen.
Canella was 2-for-4 and Mikayla Fontes was 2-for-3. Hilmar also left seven players in scoring position.
Mariposa's Lafata and Matlock combined for 7 innings pitched and struck out 10.
Madison Aguiniga tossed 5 2/3 innings, struck out four and allowed two earned runs. Gray tossed 1 1/3 with a strikeout.
“The biggest thing in softball and getting different pitching styles is about adjusting, it's a huge thing and huge step for the girls today, it was big adjustments on the box,” Olesen added. “It was different pitching we have not seen in a very long time, we spoke about it and we are going to go get it next time for sure.”