The No. 3 Hilmar High varsity softball team’s season came to a close on Friday afternoon in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V playoffs after they found their way into the losers’ bracket and fell in back-to-back contests, first to No. 2 Linden then to No. 4 Waterford.
“We had a successful season for sure. We always talk about the goals, win league and make playoffs, we didn’t win league but made playoffs, tough Friday night,” said Hilmar head coach Paul Willis. “Unfortunately, our season ended, but it was a good season, 18-11 on the year, so we won a lot of softball games and I’m happy with the girls’ effort.”
Last year the Yellowjackets made an improbable run into the SJS D-V Championship game after winning consecutive games in the consolation bracket.
They eventually fell to Escalon in the finale, but had high hopes of returning after a winning season once again.
Hilmar had a hot streak to end the regular season.
They won four of the last six games played heading into the postseason.
Their two losses came by one run each after falling to Concord, 11-10, then Los Banos, 10-9.
They handed Hughson a 13-2 loss in their penultimate game of the regular season and also handed Ripon their only league loss of the season and just their second loss of the year back on May 3, when they beat Ripon, 7-1.
“What I said at the beginning we wanted to compete in every game and last part of the season we beat Ripon, 7-1, at our place and Hughson, 13-2, last game and beat Mariposa in first playoff game, 12-2,” said Willis. “We felt ready going into playoffs, but we couldn’t get the hits when we needed them, and that is how it goes sometimes and I’m proud how the girls competed all year.”
Following their first-round win over Mariposa, Hilmar’s game scheduled for last Wednesday was rescheduled after rain delayed multiple contests in the section.
They went from two games in three days, to just two games in a manner of hours.
Hilmar came in and was expecting to make a run like last season, only things didn’t go their way.
Against the No. 2 seed in Linden, Hilmar was limited to just three hits for the game while the opposition tallied 12 hits.
The score remained 0-0 until the bottom of the third when Linden added a run.
Two were added in the fourth and one in the fifth as they secured the second-round win to bump Hilmar into the consolation bracket.
Hilmar met the No. 4 seed Waterford in the next game and after a back and forth battle, Waterford won it in the bottom of the seventh off a sac-fly.
This Hilmar team was boasting at least three college players and one committed to Division-I Western Michigan University in Morgan Amarante.
Over the past two seasons, Willis has led the Yellowjackets to 38 wins combined.
That record is 38-20 after Friday’s results.
“Right now, Morgan Amarante going to play D-I which is rare, it doesn’t happen a lot coming from Hilmar,” Willis added. “Obviously losing a pitcher like Madison Aguiniga and a catcher like Morgan, it is tough to replace players like that. Madison Steelman and Cheyann Hughes really stepped it up and Gen Fontes as well. Steelman and Hughes undecided, but Amarante’s going to Western Michigan University.”