The Pitman High softball team let a golden opportunity slip out of their hands on Wednesday afternoon after traveling to Merced High to take on the Bears.
The Pride saw a chance to take the position of second place in the Central California Conference, but instead the game became the team’s worse loss of the season and their second league shutout of the year.
Merced starting pitcher Madilyn Nickles struck out 10, walked three and allowed no runs on one hit as she tossed a complete game for the seventh consecutive contest and the Bears went on to sweep the Pride, 5-0.
“One hit is all we had. Not a good day for us today at all. We gotta get back on track and be ready soon,” said Pitman head coach Joe Lewis. “They seem to have our number lately and I don't understand because we tend to make errors and mental mistakes that we don't all the time, but it was tough today.”
The Pride's bus unfortunately ran later than usual and the team's warmup time was cut short which could explain the really slow start and sluggish play from the squad in the opening innings.
“It is just bad mojo because for the second time we had the bus be late for an away game and we come out flat and I feel it’s bad mojo,” said Pitman assistant head coach Greg Mettler. “Merced came out firing away and pumped up.”
It didn't take long for the Bears to strike first on the scoreboard as they scored two runs in the bottom of the first off Pride starter Alexis Mettler and after a scoreless inning in the second, they went off for three more.
“They had timely hits on their part,” Greg Mettler said. “We can't play them differently; we just need to play our own game.”
The lone hit for the Pride would come from one of their freshman Lehua DeLeon in the top of the third with two outs.
Unfortunately for the Pride their offense would be kept in check as Nickles did her job, retiring seven straight at one point.
“We did not have a good day with the bats. We were not swinging well and it’s disappointing,” Lewis said. “It was a slow start and once you get down to Merced they are a tough team. Once you fall behind it is hard to play catch up and come back.”
Pitman senior, Spencer Bronken opened the top of the seventh inning with a walk and after getting two quick outs, Morgan Aguiniga was hit by a pitch and after both getting in scoring position, Hannah Martel was up but unfortunately popped out to second base for the game’s final out.
“It’s tough to bounce back because we have a tight battle and I told the girls to have a gut check and it’s on their shoulders. Hopefully they come out ready and have the bats come to life soon,” said Lewis.
Pitman will have a week off for spring break but will begin play next week at the Nor Cal Classic Tournament with an opponent yet to be named and a time yet to be determined.