The Pitman Pride softball team has done something they have never done before in school history—win a postseason game—after failing to do so in the previous four appearances.
With impeccable defensive play, the Pride were able to come close to a perfect game as they traveled to Tracy to square off against West High. The Pride came out with a 5-3 win in the opening round of the Division I CIF Sac-Joaquin section tournament.
Starting pitcher Alexis Mettler tossed a complete game and allowed only two earned runs from the mound and added an RBI from the plate, while catcher Nicole Bailey tacked on three RBIs to lead the offense in a day where history was made.
“It feels good. The girls worked hard all year and I have had this group for a couple years since they were freshman, and so I knew they were due to do something big and even though we didn’t win league I really wanted to get that playoff win out of the way so they can get their confidence back,” said Pitman head coach Joe Lewis.
In a day where the temperature soared over 95 degrees, both teams played hot until the very end.
“It was a total team effort all game long. Top to bottom you can’t really say anything else, even the outfield did their job and were in great position to get the outs. It was a phenomenal job by the entire team today,” Pitman assistant head coach Greg Mettler said. “The defense was flawless.”
The Pride tallied nine hits for the game, while Mettler and Bailey each added on two hits apiece and combined had four of the team’s five RBIs.
“I just told the girls to come out and keep hands back because we were so far ahead all day swinging, looks like we fouled off over 30 balls,” Lewis said about his team’s hitting for the day.
The Wolf Pack earned the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning after Haley Hollis RBI singled Shelby Weeks in from third base to go up 1-0.
West's starting pitcher Weeks, who verbally committed to Oregon State for infield play—not pitching—started on the mound for the Wolf Pack after their ace pitcher was previously injured and had a solid day besides the sixth inning slump where the Pride took advantage.
“We know West is tough since we have played them before and they are always a tough team so you can never count them out,” Lewis said about facing West.
In the top of the third the Pride took the lead and did not let go after a Mettler RBI double was followed by a Bailey RBI triple with no outs, but Weeks would rally out of the inning.
Nothing but great defense was followed by the Pride, who would not commit a single error all game long as opposed to the Wolf Pack's lone error in the top of the sixth in the outfield that allowed Mettler on base and was followed by a Bailey two-run double to go up 4-1 with only one out.
“We worked really hard defensively and we do a lot of fielding work at practice besides our hitting, we spend days just training defense with hitting situations because that way we don’t fall out of place,” said Lewis when asked about his defense.
Then with two outs, senior Skylar Taylor drilled an RBI single to third base and beat out the throw which forced the first baseman to get her foot off the base and Mettler scored to make the game 5-1 heading into the bottom half.
“I just told the girls that it only takes one pitch and I wanted them to be aggressive with the bats and it is one thing I tell them all the time that is why we were swinging a lot and we were fortunate to get some big hits when people were on base, which we haven’t had the past few weeks so it worked out,” Lewis said.
The Wolf Pack nearly came back in the bottom of the sixth as they rallied with no outs to load the bases, but Mettler only allowed an RBI single on a 1-0 pitch after Kristen Olson drove in Samantha Asbra to cut the lead to 5-2.
An infield fly for the second out was followed by the third run scored on a pass ball and then Mettler walked Weeks to load up the bases and managed to force Mikaylah Diaz to groundout to end the sixth.
The seventh inning started off with a Hailey Martin single off Mettler, but after that it was a three up and three down kind of inning with senior Sally Acosta getting the final out from the left field as the entire team and fans in the stands made some noise with yells of happiness.
The Pride, who finished third in the Central California Conference, will move on to the second round of the postseason to face off against the number fifth team ranked in state and sixth in the nation—Vacaville—at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Sacramento Sports Complex.
“They are very good, but all it takes is the bats to get hot and the confidence. We have the pitching, I am very confident with Lexi pitching; we just need to have the bats just like anything else. I know our girls are capable of doing; we just have to work hard since we have a few days in between. We will be ready,” Lewis added.