Before the game even started, Pitman High softball coach Cassie Sheppherd noticed a bad sign.
During warm-ups, her players looked nervous.
When it was game time, her intuitions were correct.
“The girls were missing routine plays and overthrowing the ball,” Sheppherd pointed out.
Those kinds of mistakes spelled doom in the Pride’s first postseason appearance, as Napa High scored both of its runs on defensive errors in a 2-1 win in the outbracket game of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament on Wednesday afternoon.
“This was an amazing season for us as a team,” Sheppherd said. “We all grew as a team. Our roles became more defined and the team, as a unit, became one to be reckoned with.”
The Pride finished with an 18-10 overall record after securing the third and final playoff spot in the Central California Conference with a 9-6 mark. Eight of their 10 losses came by just one run. Wednesday was another close heartbreak.
In the first inning, Pitman’s Allison Kuchan led off with a single. She then stole second base after the Napa catcher missed the ball. That set up Miranda Taylor’s hard line-drive hit down the first base line, allowing Kuchan to score and give the Pride a 1-0 lead. The Indians responded, and scored their two runs in their first plate appearance.
“When Napa took the field to warm up, they looked sharp. Really sharp,” Sheppherd said. “Our girls watched and I could see that our first time to the playoffs, in addition to Napa taking the field with authority, that the girls were definitely nervous. We took the field for a quick 10-minute warm-up and the nerves were readily apparent.”
Sheppherd, however, is anticipating another strong run next season, especially with starting junior pitcher Janessa Guevara returning. The Pride will do so without four outgoing seniors in third baseman Taylor, first baseman Hannah Hibdon, second baseman Emily Raley and catcher Kuchan.
“I am very happy with this season and am looking forward to an even better one next year,” Sheppherd added.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.