The Turlock Christian High softball team was coming off not only their best postseason performance, but arguably the best season in nearly a decade after winning a playoff game by a margin of 12 runs. But on Thursday, the Eagles' hot bats ended.
Meeting up with a familiar foe from the Central California Athletic Alliance in Jim Elliot Christian, the Eagles looked almost destined for a possible upset coming off a 17-hit performance.
Instead they were vigorously handled by starting pitcher Ashley Johns who tossed a no-hitter in the 11-1 victory at the Arnaiz Softball fields in Stockton in the semifinal bout of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Division VII Section tournament.
“We came into the game with renewed confidence and thought we could play and the girls had the confidence, but we just didn't hit the ball,” said TC head coach Randy Hopkins. “They didn't intimidate us. We played defense, but didn't have the offense.”
The only offense for the Eagles came on the five walks that were issued by Johns which then allowed a run to cross the plate on an error in the top of the third when Aimee Jones scored after Abbie Morelli got on base with a sacrifice.
Down 1-4 with one out, Johns, who was the CCAA pitcher of the year, silenced the next two batters and the Eagles were left with a runner in scoring position.
“Their pitching was great. She threw well and that was key, kept us off of our game,” Hopkins said of Johns. “She was overpowering and threw strikes, we just couldn't put the bat on the ball, that was it, we made contact but they had good defense as well.”
Up 5-1 by the end of the third inning, Jim Elliot scored four more runs in the fourth, followed by two in the sixth which buried the Eagles' playoff aspirations.
“Our girls were not flustered and battled till the last out,” Hopkins said.
After a short season, TC ends the year with a .500 record at 7-7, having made the postseason for the first time since 2010.
“It was a win this season,” said Hopkins. “We had a successful season, and went to the postseason and beat a 12-0 league team on Tuesday [Vacaville Christian] and that was phenomenal, just so proud of the girls. They felt good about their season and what happened in the postseason it was a positive feeling.”