It’s not unheard of for a team to play with a person down due to injury, illness or other unforeseen circumstances. Playing with two holes in your starting lineup, however, is rare and hard to recover from, especially when the missing players fill important positions like third base and catcher.
That was the situation Delhi High found itself in Thursday afternoon when its girls hosted Gustine High. The absences resulted in a last-minute reshuffling of its defense and ultimately played a big hand in the 5-8 loss to the Redskins.
“It killed us,” Delhi head coach Tami Tela said. “Morale wise, it killed us. We put a person at third base who never plays there; we put a person at second base that’s never played there and then we moved my corners and my pitchers to catcher.”
Freshman outfielders were brought into the infield and pitchers Brianna Lopez and Alyssa Stockton took turns catching for each other. It was a stressful situation for the Hawks (3-2 SAL) who entered the game in a three-way tie for second place in the Southern Athletic League with Waterford High and Mariposa County High. Still, despite the setbacks with its personnel, Delhi remained in the game.
After giving up two runs in the top of the first inning, the Hawks answered back with a Lopez two-run homer with two outs to tie the game in the bottom of the first. Lopez then recorded three consecutive strikeouts in the top of the second before RBIs from Alexia Fernandez and Stockton made it 4-2.
But the surge didn’t last for long. Gustine’s Alyssa Faria kicked off her team’s comeback effort with a RBI double which was followed by a Stormi Flores tag-up score from third base on a pop fly and a Terrah Vitorino RBI single. Delhi was only a run behind, but a three and out inning in the bottom of the third didn’t help its cause.
“She was effectively slow,” Tela said of Gustine’s pitcher, Hannah Cordiero, who frustrated the Hawks with slow pitches.
The Hawks attempted to turn things around with a pitching change in the top of the fourth inning, but even their ace Stockton couldn’t stop the bleeding. Solid hitting from Sierra Alamo and Faria added two more runs to Gustine’s total in the fourth as they took advantage of Delhi errors and out-of-position players.
“It was something I had to do. Both of them don’t catch each other,” Tela said of the pitching change. “I definitely don’t want either one of them hurt. So I just split the duties today, that’s all I could do.”
Delhi scored its final run of the day in the bottom of the fourth on an Athena Nguyen RBI single that crossed Fernandez while Gustine scored its final run in the top of the sixth on an Alamo RBI single.
Stockton and Lopez finished the day with seven strikeouts each and respective ERAs of 3.50 and 4.67.
Delhi is now set to face Waterford and Mariposa County next week as the three teams continue their hunt of undefeated league leaders Orestimba High.
“We just got to stay focused. And we’ve got to stay patient at the plate,” Tela said. “We have plenty of time to correct.”