The Del Norte softball team dropped its first two games at the Arcata Tournament on Friday and Saturday. But the Warriors wrapped up the competition with a lopsided win, which they hope will give them some momentum as they head into their final week of the season.
“We didn’t have the greatest showing,” said Del Norte head coach Jackie Heuberger. “It was kind of the same story that we have been struggling with all year. We just have inconsistent defense, inconsistent hitting, and that just really hurts us in every game. The girls had fun though, it was a good weekend and a good experience overall.”
Del Norte started the tournament strong, taking an early lead on Friday before a late rally by Hoopa pushed Del Norte to a 7-6 loss. On Saturday the Warriors took on a talented Cloverdale team and fell 10-2before bouncing back for a 17-2 win over Elsie Allen in five innings to close out the tournament.
With the regular season schedule winding down Heuberger said Del Norte went with some different lineups and liberal substitutions throughout the weekend.
“We got an opportunity to let everybody play, so the girls who have been sitting on the bench a lot this season got lots of playing time,” Heuberger said. “Josephine (Heuberger) got to pitch a whole game, and Tamesha (Jordan) got to pitch a whole game — we haven’t gotten to do that much as we have been trying to figure out ways to win. I think it was especially a good bonding weekend for the girls, especially the seniors because most of them are not going on to play. So it was a good opportunity for them to play and have fun together.
“We saw some really good softball. Cloverdale has an excellent pitcher who was great to see for those girls who are going on to play in college, and the girls coming back next year. It was good to see some solid pitching towards the end of the season.”
Heuberger said Del Norte had a significant advantage over Elsie Allen in the last game of the tournament, which allowed the Warriors to get even more creative with their lineup.
“Elsie Allen is a weaker team, so it gave us an opportunity to play our younger players, and for girls who aren’t in starting positions to play,” Heuberger said. “So Molly (Slayton) got to catch, we put Gabbie (Pantoja) at second base, Maddy Burchell has been behind the plate for us all season and she got to go play first base, which is where she played last year, so she was so excited to go out there and play. Some of the positions have been pretty dominated by seniors so it gave me an opportunity to get the younger kids in and have some time to play. We saw some things that may work next year, and some things that we will need to work on. I think it gave the girls some confidence and they will feel more comfortable in game situations to start the season next year.”
Saturday’s win was the fourth of the season for Del Norte.
“It was rewarding for them,” Heuberger said. “To get that win was good for us going into the last three games that we have. I watched Fortuna down there a little bit and they make a lot of the same mistakes that we do. I am hoping that we can pull off three wins next week, but we will see what happens.”
Del Norte heads into the final regular season series with a 1-8 record in Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 play, putting them a game ahead of Fortuna, which is 0-9 in Big 5 games this year.
The Warriors will host the Huskies today, starting at 4 p.m. The regular season will then wrap up with a doubleheader between Del Norte and Fortuna. Those games have been rescheduled to Friday, starting at 3 p.m.
“(Fortuna) is going to hit, so we really need to play defense,” Heuberger said. “I think that is the key. I think we will be able to hit the ball. Tamesha throws a lot of off speed pitches and does a nice job of keeping batters off balance in every game. The key is our defense. — when the ball does get hit and put into play are they going to know what to do with the ball in certain situations? One thing I’m really trying to emphasis with the girls is to take ownership of their own play, and to know what they are supposed to be doing at all times without having to be told on every pitch.”