The No. 2 Del Norte softball team literally went unchallenged in their North Coast Section quarterfinal on Saturday, as No. 7 St. Patrick-St. Vincent elected not to make the trip from Vallejo for the second day in a row due to a conflict with the school’s graduation. That left Del Norte to pick up the forfeit, which officially goes in the scorebook as a 7-0 win for the Warriors.
St. Patrick-St.Vincent made the trip to Crescent City on Friday, but decided against skipping out on graduation for the makeup game on Saturday.
“Protocol is that if you don’t play, then you play the next day,” said Del Norte head coach Pablo Lorenzi. “I had to come down this morning and line and drag the field — do everything that I needed to do to prep the field for a game. Then I sent the North Coast Section a picture to show them that the field was playable and we were ready to play at 1 p.m.”
The NCS then called St. Patrick-St. Vincent’s athletic director, who informed them that they would not be making the trip and therefore forfeited the game.
“It’s a win for us, but you want to play because we haven’t played in two weeks now,” Lorenzi said. “It puts us at a little bit of a disadvantage because we aren’t playing, but everybody else is. We only have to win one game to get back to the championship, but it is going to be tough to win that game when you haven’t seen competitive live pitching. We just have to do what we have to do. There is nothing that we can do about it.”
Del Norte will be back at home on Wednesday for their semifinal matchup against No. 3 McKinleyville starting at 5 p.m.
“I think the toughest thing for us right now is that we haven’t gotten any live playing time for a while,” said Del Norte junior pitcher Allison Douglas. “At the same time, I think once it is game time we are going to be fired up and ready to go, especially on our home turf. We are not going to want McKinleyville to come up here and beat us.”
The HDN Big 5 foes are already intimately familiar with each other as the semifinal matchup will be the fifth time this season the two teams have met.
“The top of their lineup is really strong,” Douglas said. “Coming out in the first inning we need to shut them down as a defense, and then go in and jump on top. That is our main goal for the first part of the game.”
“I think it will be a good game, I really do,” Lorenzi said. “They have just as good of a chance of beating us as we do to beat them. It will come down to who doesn’t make mistakes, and if they do make mistakes who is going to be able to come back and be mentally tough.”
Del Norte swept the regular season with wins of 5-3, 3-2 and 7-3 before McKinleyville got revenge with a 6-0 win in the first round of the HDN League Tournament.
“They think that they can beat us because they beat us 6-0, but I think they will see a different team than the one that they saw at the Humboldt-Del Norte Tournament game,” Lorenzi said. “You are going to see a little bit healthier team, a team with a little bit more drive and a little more commitment. Our goal is to get back to that championship game and we are going to do whatever we have to do to get there.”
After Del Norte swept its way through the North Coast Section tournament last year only to have its win in the championship game vacated by NCS officials due to impermissible batting practice too close to game time, the Warriors feel like they have something to prove.
Although Del Norte hasn’t played a game since that 6-0 loss to McKinleyville on May 17, Douglas said she expects her team to be ready to roll once the game begins.
“I think it is mostly about keeping each other up as a team and making sure that everyone wants to be in this. Our team has always been really excited when it comes to this time,” Douglas said. “It is a big deal for us after last year. We want to come back and show everyone that what we did last year wasn’t just from cheating. We think we deserve it, and we want to come back and show everyone that we do deserve it.”
One of the positive things about having two weeks off is that the Warriors have had some extra time to nurse several bumps and bruises after a long season. The time has been particularly beneficial for Douglas, who was having problems with her quad during the HDN playoffs.
Douglas said she injured her quad at the start of practice this year, but it was feeling much better by the time games started. Douglas then re-injured the muscle while rounding third base against McKinleyville at the end of the regular season.
“It has just been a slow process of getting it healed,” Douglas said. “Without playing for a while I am back to good now. I’m ready to jump out and start playing.”