The goal is always to beat Turlock High. But for the Pitman High softball team, some years are just wishful thinking.
Not this year.
Especially not on Wednesday afternoon, when the Pride displayed their offensive prowess to support another commanding, near-perfect performance by Janessa Guevara. The junior hurler threw a two-hitter to go along with eight strikeouts, and the Pride pounded out nine hits in a 6-0 win at the Turlock High softball field in front a few dozen fans.
This was the Pride’s first triumph over their crosstown nemesis since a 4-3 win on April 25, 2008.
“This is a morale booster,” said second-year coach Cassie Sheppherd. “In the last couple years, they’ve never beat Turlock. At the beginning of the year, we always make goals and one of the goals was to beat Turlock. They accomplished an important goal today and I was pretty happy about it.”
She also should be happy that her Pride improved to 3-1 in the Central California Conference and 8-3 overall before Friday’s contest at Merced High, already surpassing last year’s win total by one.
Sheppherd said a big factor in Pitman’s success this season is assistant coach Amanda Goulart, who was the school’s junior varsity coach in the three previous seasons.
“She’s definitely been instrumental in everything that we do,” Sheppard said.
Against the Bulldogs, Pitman had all the tools to win. For much of the game, the Pride’s defense was solid, thanks to Guevara and her curveballs — which the hurler said were “very dirty today.” She pitched a perfect game through 5 1/3 innings, with one key stop coming from Emily Raley. The senior second baseman caught a ground ball after it bounced off Guevara’s glove, calmly scooping it up for the first out in the fifth.
But the chance of perfection was killed after Turlock’s Karleigh Perkins was able to squeeze out the first of her team’s two hits, sending a line drive to right field. The Pitman defense still had a chance to throw out Perkins, but she was just too quick.
It didn’t matter much.
This was the Pride’s game to win, though it was against a Bulldogs team that had shut them out in the three previous meetings. Turlock (1-9-1 overall, 1-3 CCC before Friday) is going through a rebuilding phase after losing seven graduating seniors after last season.
Pitman went up 2-0 after the third, but didn’t put away the Bulldogs until the top of the sixth, when the Pride scored three runs. Senior catcher Allison Kuchan came up big and smacked a two-RBI double to put her team ahead 5-0.
Kuchan finished the day with a 2-for-4 showing at the plate, and so did Raley. Elizabeth Segars and Emily Silva each contributed with an RBI.
“We’re a solid team,” Kuchan said. “We proved it in league and preseason.”
The crosstown rivalry triumph also puts aside Pitman’s 4-0 shutout loss to Buhach Colony High on Monday afternoon, the first of three games for the Pride this week after last week’s heavy rain caused rescheduling. The Pride said they are unfazed by the defeat.
“We came out looking strong,” said Guevara, the Pitman hurler. “We definitely were prepared for this game. We’ve all, as a team, been working very, very hard. It shows on the field, definitely.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.