It was Thursday afternoon and the Pitman High softball players were working on their fielding at Arrowhead Field near their school. It was a routine activity, but assistant coach Amanda Goulart noticed something strange.
Her players didn’t look focused — in this brief moment.
“Come on,” she yelled. “We have playoffs.”
Yes, that’s a strange word to use when referring to the Pride softball team, which had talented teams in the past but never this successful. For the first time in the school’s short history, Pitman is in the playoffs. And questions regarding the success of this year’s team are immediately directed to the assistant coach who was reminding the Pitman players on Thursday that they had a postseason game coming up.
“She keeps us focused and working hard,” senior catcher Allison Kuchan said of Goulart. “She keeps our minds from wondering off.”
It won’t be easy putting away a team with years of playoff frustrations. Plenty of this season’s Pitman players experienced the heartbreak of returning their gloves and uniforms as soon as the last out of the regular season is called. Not this time, as the Pride — the third seed in the Central California Conference after going 9-6 — will play in an “outbracket” game at Napa High, the No. 3 team in the Monticello Empire League. The winner then moves on to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament to face Sheldon High of Sacramento.
Is Pitman (18-9 overall) confident heading into an unfamiliar territory like the postseason?
Short answer: No.
Pitman began varsity softball during the 2004-05 season shortly after the school opened. The program endured a rough few years with five different coaches and no truly successful seasons except in 2007, when the Pride were 11-11overall after going 7-5 in the CCC and missing the playoffs.
So this year’s accomplishments, which include a three-game sweep over crosstown rival Turlock High, don’t come often within the Pitman softball program. And that’s why third baseman Miranda Taylor expressed a sense of surrealism when thinking about playing in the postseason.
“It hasn’t kicked in,” she said. “It’s a big thing for everyone else, but not for the team. But it’s a good feeling.”
The Pride say this year’s team chemistry is different than before. Much more cohesive, they say. They also credit Goulart, the former junior varsity coach who brings in a wealth of softball knowledge while keeping her players from wondering off in practice. There’s the guidance of Cassie Sheppherd, who’s in her second consecutive year as the head coach.
And then there’s Janessa Guevara, the junior hurler who has been consistent all season for the Pride.
So are they ready for the playoffs?
Short answer: yes.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.