By Bill Choy
Beating your opponent 23-3 and 23-2 is a great way to end a season.
That's exactly what the Del Norte High junior varsity softball team did against McKinleyville on the road on Saturday after being soundly defeated by Eureka the previous game.
"It was nice to go out on a positive note," Warrior head coach Delores Markussen said.
Del Norte finished the year 6-6 and gained valuable experience in what it takes to play softball on the high school level and to give the girls an idea of what will be expected of them if they decide to join the varsity team.
This season held special significance since it was the first time in about six years the school has fielded a JV softball team.
Markussen said she was proud of how the 14 girls on her team improved as the season went on.
"I think we came a long way from where we first started," she said. "We just got better and better."
Markussen said it took time to get the girls accustomed to the team's system and to learn what was expected and how to play the game on the high school level.
While there was an adjustment period, Markussen said the girls showed terrific improvement and were always striving to learn.
"They did what they needed to do to improve," she said, adding she was impressed with her team's willingness to learn from their mistakes, take direction well and try to improve.
Markussen said a major reason she and varsity head coach Jackie Heuberger wanted to field a JV team was to give the younger girls experience they would not have gotten sitting on the bench for the varsity team, or not playing at all.
Already, five girls have been called up to play for the varsity team.
Currently, the Warrior varsity softball squad is in the elite class of the Big 5 Conference with a 12-1 overall mark.
Sophomore Rosie Lopez, who started at third base for the JV team played her first game for the varsity team against Eureka on Wednesday and saw the field at second base and in the designated hitter spot.
"Playing on the JV team helped me a lot because I knew what to expect," Lopez said, adding JV taught her vital fundamentals like how to properly bunt the ball and the importance of "keeping your head in the game."
"The whole experience of JV has helped me," she said.
Freshman Brandi Story, who played in the left field said she was glad to have been able to have the experience of playing softball this season.
"I've learned a lot," she said. "It helped my game quite a lot."
The JV assistant coach was McKinnze Holden, who pitched for the varsity team as a senior last year.
Markussen said Holden's softball expertise, especially with pitching, was very helpful to the JV squad.
Markussen, who also continued her duties as assistant coach for the varsity team while running the JV program said that though the experience was a challenge at times, it was well worth it to see the end result.
And, she said, she can't wait to do it again next year.
"We're ready to build up the program now that we have established a base," she said.