Strong pitching helps Del Norte sweep Panthers
After the final out of the final home game of the season, the Del Norte softball team’s seniors brought out the shaving cream. Younger players, coaches and innocent bystanders alike wound up slathered in white foam.
The sight could have been misconstrued, however absurdly, as a celebration of a strong performance. The Warriors defeated McKinleyville 10-0 in five innings in the first game, then pulled out a 2-1 victory in the second game on Monday.
“Not a bad way to finish the year at home,” Del Norte coach Tom Moore said. “Outstanding — both games.
Chandler Davis admitted to feeling “kind of sad because it’s my last hurrah at home” when she took to the pitching rubber in the first game. The senior proceeded to allow the Panthers one hit and three walks, striking out four in her five innings.
Where the Warriors had struggled this season was in run support. Their bats came alive in the second inning.
With the bases loaded and one out, Zena Welch singled in Amber Babbitt. Keirstyn Anderson followed, walking in Tanasha Santos. Falyn Bruhy came home on a wild pitch, then Davis helped her own cause with a two-run single.
After Kathryn Gustafson singled Davis in, Del Norte held a six-run lead that felt like 60 runs.
“We thought, ‘We got this, we’re right there,’” Davis said.
Davis hit a second two-run single in the fourth inning to put the mercy rule within reach. In the fifth inning, Cloyne Welch and Marissa Van Dyke both scored on wild pitches, prompting the umpire to call the game.
“Just about everybody hit the ball well,” Moore said.
McKinleyville’s Tammi Valley returned to the circle for the second game after giving up eight runs in 31⁄3 innings in the first game. Valley set the tone by striking out six of the first seven batters she faced; she struck out 12 for the game, allowing four hits and one walk.
Camryn Ridgley gave up two singles in the first inning but found her rhythm as well. The junior struck out 12 batters, walking one and allowing just one more single.
“I was pretty relaxed toward the first of the game,” Ridgley said. “Toward the end I started feeling pressure.”
The breaks began to fall Del Norte’s way in the fifth inning, when Bruhy, first up to bat, hit a grounder to third base and barely beat out an inaccurate throw.
“I thought she did (throw me out),” Bruhy said. “Then I thought (the shortstop) got me out when I stole second.”
Bruhy was safe on her steal attempt. She moved to third base when Zena Welch reached on an error and scored on a wild pitch from Valley. Welch scored on an Ayashe Padon groundout for a 2-0 Warriors lead.
Del Norte would lose the shutout in the seventh inning after throwing the ball into the outfield on a stolen-base attempt at second base, but Ridgley fielded a groundout to record the final out and give the seven Warriors seniors — Anderson, Babbitt, Davis, Gustafson, Padon, Santos and Zena Welch, all honored before the second game — a happy sendoff.
“It was good because it wasn’t an easy game,” Davis said of the second game. “We played as good as we could. The pitching was excellent today.
The Warriors (11-7 overall, 3-6 Humboldt-Del Norte League) next play at Eureka Wednesday at 4 p.m.