Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

After seven weeks of practicing, Del Norte softball comes together in time for season opener

Four weeks after the first of Del Norte High's spring sports teams began its season, the Warriors' varsity softball team finally gets its chance.

"It's been a long preseason," Del Norte head coach Tom Moore conceded. "I hope they play as hard as they've been practicing."

The Warriors have gotten plenty of outdoor practice in. Quirks of high school scheduling left the team with seven weeks to prepare for its season opener, at the Anderson Tournament in Redding on Friday. Del Norte's junior varsity softball team, by way of comparison, began play three weeks ago.

As if to exaggerate the definition of a season opener, the Warriors play a tripleheader on Friday, beginning with Red Bluff High at 8 a.m., Chico High at 1:20 p.m. and Corning High at 4:20 p.m.

"I'm hoping the tournament will bring us up," senior pitcher Camryn Ridgley said. "If we all pull ourselves together and work together, we can do good."

Last year's Warriors finished 11-10 overall (3-9 Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 conference) but endured last year's trying spring of rainouts and weeks of practice held inside Thunen Gymnasium.

On the field, Ridgley and Chandler Davis proved a strong one-two punch as pitchers, with Colleen Markussen making contributions as a freshman. Del Norte struggled with timely hitting and communication as the season progressed.

"We weren't a team (at times) last year," Ridgley said.

Davis and six other seniors have graduated, but Del Norte's numbers have held steady, with 15 rostered players. All four infielders are new starters, as is junior catcher Kiera Davis, who has been praised by teammates for her work in practice.

The strength of the Warriors this year lies within the pitching circle. Ridgley, junior Ashton Smedley and Markussen give Moore a three-deep rotation with the strength to push innings limitations.

"I'm not scored to throw one every game (Friday)," Moore said.

Moore has been impressed, as spring has progressed, with the communication between his returning players and newcomers.

"To me, they're working better together than they were last year," he said. "The seniors are helping out the juniors a lot better than I've seen on other teams."

At long last, the Warriors will be able to put their camaraderie and competitive spirit to the test and open up the 2013 season on what they hope will be a positive note.

"Physically, mentally, they're ready to play," Moore said.

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