MORAGA — The Del Norte High School softball team fell behind to No. 1 St. Joseph Notre Dame in the first inning, and the Warriors offense was never able to get on track for long enough to answer in the North Coast Section Division IV Championship game at Cottrell Field on the campus of St. Mary’s College in Moraga. Del Norte ended up falling 4-0 to finish as the runner up, officially, for the division for the second year in a row.

“We just didn’t perform like we should have performed,” said Del Norte head coach Pablo Lorenzi. “We ended up with two errors that basically cost us three runs. We were right on their pitcher, but we just topped every single ball. The couple times we hit it solidly it was just right at people. There are no excuses, we just didn’t do what we needed to do and they did.”

The Pilots jumped out to a lead in the bottom of the first inning with a two-out solo home run that smacked the top of the fence and barely trickled out of the ballpark for a 1-0 lead in an otherwise slow offensive start to the game.

Del Norte pitcher Allison Douglas and the Warrior defense was able to stop the Pilots at just one run in the early going before running into some uncharacteristic errors in the infield. The Warriors ended up committing two errors in the fourth inning which accounted for two unearned runs as St. Joseph Notre Dame took control of the game with a 4-0 lead.

“That is really not typical of us. It happens though,” Lorenzi said of the errors in the infield. “We have only played one game in three weeks. Like I have said before, getting ground balls in practice is a lot different than getting ground balls off of a batter that is really trying to hit the ball. Other than that we just didn’t produce.”

Douglas finished with a strong performance on the mound for the Warriors, scattering four hits through seven innings and allowing just two earned runs. Del Norte wasn’t able to get a single base hit against the Pilots, however.

“The errors hurt us, but it was 1-0 for a long time, and we just didn’t produce with the bat,” Lorenzi said. “I think that kind of deflated us. We were on every single pitch. Our timing was perfect. We were just topping every single ball.”

The Warriors did manage to break up St. Joseph’s perfect game, however, as a hard hit ground ball to second base allowed Tvshiina Jacobs to reach first on a fielding error in the top of the fourth inning. Payten Healy got to first base for the Warriors in the sixth inning on a hard hit ball that the third-basemen couldn’t field cleanly.

Although the loss drops Del Norte to 22-5 overall this season and ends their season one win short of their final goal, Lorenzi tried to put the game into perspective for the players after the final out.

“I basically told them that they had a great season,” Lorenzi said. “You can be upset about this, but at the same time you accomplished 90 percent of our goals. The only thing that we didn’t do was win this. We won the league and went 12-0, we were undefeated at home, and we accomplished the whole quest of getting here. This is a hard one to lose, but if you’re going to lose one, you lose this one — you don’t lose on the way. We gave ourselves a chance but we just didn’t produce.”

The end of the season also marks the end of the athletic careers for Del Norte’s five senior softball players: Brook Nolan, Payten Healy, Tvshiina Jacobs, Antonia Alcala and Hannah Baldwin. All five seniors have been playing softball together since before coming to high school.

“They have been with the program from the beginning,” Lorenzi said. “Without them we probably wouldn’t have a program. They have sacrificed a lot of things to do this, and I think it has paid off for them — not only in softball, but in learning life lessons and how to get to the top. They will be missed.”

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com

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