Hits and misses for DN

Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

A trying spring for baseball and softball teams

The website of the City of Crescent City advertises an annual rainfall in the area of 75 inches.

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."

Reach Robert Husseman at rhusseman@triplicate.com .

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