A trying spring for baseball and softball teams
Forgive members of the Del Norte High School softball team, then, if they feel that number understates matters.
The Warriors, who finished 11-10 overall on the season (3-9 Humboldt-Del Norte League) spent much of February, March and April practicing fundamentals in the school gyms.
First-year head coach Tom Moore and assistant Rick White had a sense of the capabilities of their team early in the year, realized with a 9-5 start. Del Norte struggled down the stretch against league opponents, missing the playoffs as a result.
“It took a toll,” Moore said. “We made do with what we had. Practicing indoors, it’s hard to keep everything focused on the game.”
The Warriors were strong in the circle with senior Chandler Davis and junior Camryn Ridgley. A group of seven seniors, including Davis, infield standouts Ayashe Padon and Keirstyn Anderson and regular catcher Amber Babbitt, provided the team with leadership and a wealth of experience.
Ultimately, however, Del Norte’s undoing was in the batter’s box.
“You’ve got to see live pitching to find and focus on the ball,” Moore said. “You can’t take (a game) away from the other team when you can’t hit.”
Nine of the Warriors’ games were decided by three runs or fewer. Del Norte’s record in those games was a disappointing 3-6.
Despite the losses of strong players, Moore has a lot to look forward to in 2013. The Warriors’ junior varsity team finished its season with a 9-3 record, and freshman pitcher Colleen Markussen stood out for the Del Norte varsity late in the year. Moore will also enjoy the privilege of coaching his daughter, junior Breanna Moore, for another season. (Moore has three daughters; the second, Brittany, played for the junior varsity team as a freshman this season.)
“It’ll be good,” Moore said. “We should do real well next year. As long as we compete, I’ll be happy.”
Baseball goes winless
As tough as the rainy spring was on the Del Norte softball team, the Warriors baseball team may have fared even worse.
Del Norte played 13 games this season — the fewest in school history, according to head coach Jared Wells — and lost them all, including all 12 games against Humboldt-Del Norte League opponents. The Warriors opened their season with a 26-4 loss to Sonoma Valley on Feb. 25; their next games took place April 7.
“It’s really tough for a young team and a new coaching staff to come into,” said Wells, like Moore a first-year head coach. “That was brutal.”
Del Norte fielded a 14-man baseball team this spring, with Kody Osborne and Nacho Moreno the only two seniors. The Warriors had no JV squad. Assistant coach Nick Jager and volunteer coaches Justin Yslas and Evan O’Brien joined Wells as new coaches.
Not unlike the softball team, hitting was a particularly weak spot for the Warriors. Del Norte scored multiple runs in three of its 13 games, with a season high of four runs. The Warriors were shut out five times.
While disappointed with the results, Wells said he did see improvement in his players’ approach at the plate over time.
“As the season went on, we were finally starting to get it,” he said. “Even though we didn’t get a win, it still feels like the team was getting better. This is super-optimistic speculation, but if we had played (more) preseason games, when we got to mid-season we would’ve hit our stride.”
Perhaps so. Hitting can lead to improved pitching, and vice versa.
While Del Norte allowed an average of 10 runs per game to its opponents, the Warriors’ pitching staff produced stretches of brilliance. Freshman Johnny Calderon had a standout year, and junior Nathan Porter was also a reliable arm. Luke Seats and Aaron Fitch were called upon to chip in as relief pitchers over the course of the season.
“Once we got the rotation down, we did have good pitching,” Wells said.
Wells cannot help but be optimistic about a 2013 team in which all but two players return for another season.
“I hated losing every game (this season). It was awful,” Wells said. “We need to move past the negativity of the record and get to where we can rebuild.
“I’m pretty excited to watch these kids go through the next couple of years.”