HANFORD — With a new season on the horizon, the Sierra Pacific softball team hasn’t had much time to gel as a unit. Some of that lack of chemistry showed on Tuesday and contributed to a 14-4 loss to Coalinga in five innings.
“We haven’t really meshed as a team coming out here,” Sierra Pacific coach Victor Chavarin said. “We barely got our soccer girls out here … and then last week we couldn’t practice because of the rain.”
Chavarin said the team has had about two practices together as a team and they’re still missing a couple girls from the basketball team who are currently in the playoffs.
Sierra Pacific (0-4) found themselves in a quick hole when Coalinga came out swinging and put up three runs in the top of the first inning.
Coalinga third baseman Maci Martin got the scoring started with an RBI single up the middle. A walk and a wild pitch followed to move the runners up and a single brought in two more runs.
The Golden Bears answered right back in the bottom of the frame with three runs of their own to tie the game. After second baseman Ashlyn Martinez and outfielder Lauren Simas got on board with back-to-back singles, center fielder Kaitlin Thayer hit a little roller to first to score both of them.
“You just have to go up to plate knowing that you can hit the ball,” Martinez, who got the rally started, said. “You can’t have any doubt. If you go up to the plate knowing you can hit, you’re going to make some connection.”
The Horned Toads couldn’t’ field the ball cleanly and a throwing error to first turned Thayer’s single into extra bases. Thayer finished 1-for-3 with two RBI. She also scored a run with catcher McKenna Randell’s RBI single to right field.
“I like the motivation that they didn’t get down on themselves,” Chavarin said. “I said, ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s a long game. They got three on us let’s go back and get them,’ and they did.”
All tied up, Sierra Pacific starting pitcher Deanne Stoner got into a bit of a rhythm and retired the side in order, including a strikeout. The Golden Bears then took the lead in the second and led 4-3 entering the third. But then things started to unravel.
Consecutive walks and a couple of hits scored three runs for the Horned Toads. A single and a stolen base followed before a 4-3 putout for the first out. The hits continued for Coalinga as they batted around and ended up with a nine-run third.
“We only have one senior on the team this year, Chavarin said. “Being young, I think there’s a lot of communication issues that we need to work on. If we get those down, we’ll be pretty good because we've got some hitters.”
Sierra Pacific suddenly found themselves trailing by eight runs. During the inning, Stoner was replaced by Chayanne Grayson. Stoner allowed eight runs (six earned) on six hits and three walks over 2 1/3 innings pitched. She also had one strikeout.
Chavarin attributed the rough inning to getting back to conditioning and not being able to pitch much after a long offseason.
“Little by little she’ll get back into form,” Chavarin said. “I think at the end she’ll be our No. 1.”
The Golden Bears’ bats only managed two hits and a walk the last three innings.
“Right when [Coalinga] started scoring again we just got done on ourselves,” Thayer said. “Softball’s a mind game, so it happens to the best of us.”
The Golden Bears will hit the road in search of their first win of the season against also winless Mt. Whitney (0-4). The team will look to continue to build together throughout the early stages of the season, especially with a young team featuring Martinez as the only senior.
“I’m looking forward to our league,” Chavarin said. “I think we’re probably the team to beat in our league. Last year we had a couple fumbles against some of our league teams. If we get those kinks out I think we’ll be a solid team to reckon with.”
Last year, Sierra Pacific finished 17-8 and was second in the East Yosemite League at 12-3. The Golden Bears lost in the first round of the CIF Central Section Division V playoffs.