Last spring was a good season for the Hilmar High varsity softball team—and the Yellowjackets are already on the path to a repeat performance.
In the 2018, Hilmar won 20 games, had four players selected as all-league selections in the Trans Valley League, arguably one of the most competitive leagues just a year ago, and were the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V runners-up after making an unforgettable run to reach the final.
“We had a long year last year, we have confidence knowing we can play at a high level. Our outfield is returning and almost everyone is back,” said Hilmar head coach Paul Willis. “We feel like we can compete with anyone, I want to make sure we compete.”
Willis is looking for the team to compete and perhaps repeat some of that same success from a group that lost just two starters, yet return their catcher and pitcher--some of the best in the TVL.
Those two include catcher Morgan Amarante and pitcher Madison Aguiniga.
“Madison has been our main pitcher, she is returning all-league from last year,” said Willis. “We have Morgan Amarante as well who is a returning all-league catcher as well, then with Cheyann Hughes returning all-league shortstop and Madison Steelman, all-league returning center fielder, those are four girls that play a lot of softball and doing good things for us offensively and defensively.”
So far, Hilmar is off to a perfect 3-0 start in league and are 10-1 overall.
They have outscored opponents, 117-32, as they head into one of their most intense matchups of the season, pending rain.
The ‘Jackets are next scheduled to take on Escalon, the team that beat them in the D-V SJS final last year, 6-0, and league rivals.
Escalon is currently boasting an overall record of 5-5-1 and 1-1 in the TVL. Their only league loss so far is against an undefeated Ripon, which sits with a 9-0 overall record and 3-0 in league.
“We have a tough stretch now… you have Ripon, Escalon and Hughson, all those teams are quality teams,” said Willis. “TVL is a tough league, on a daily basis, anybody can beat anybody. We are hoping to win our home games and split our away games.”
The team has just two senior starters on this year’s squad while the rest are underclassmen.
Three are sophomores on the varsity roster.
“Our goal is to make playoffs. We are lucky that the TVL has been so good over the years that we have four representatives in playoffs. Because of those four teams everyone deserves to make the playoffs,” said Willis. “So, we want to be top four and win as many games as we can, obviously. Softball is unpredictable, and I tell the girls that we need to compete, and that is it.”
Since dropping their first and only contest of the season so far, Hilmar has won 10 consecutive games.
Hilmar’s next game will be at home against Escalon at 4 p.m. Wednesday.