The Wilcox Chargers varsity softball squad traveled up to Woodside Tuesday afternoon for the fifth game of this early non-league portion of the season. Despite dropping a 6-3 decision to the Wildcats, Wilcox displayed impressive skills in all three major facets of the game with pitching, hitting and defense.
One could argue the final result Tuesday afternoon was a bit unlucky. Skill-wise, the Chargers looked plenty capable of coming away with the win. In the bottom of the first inning, Wilcox was inches away from escaping a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam by only allowing one run. A two-out, two-run bloop single that just tipped off their right fielder’s glove on what would have been a fantastic running catch put the Chargers behind the eight ball early on.
From that point on though, the Wildcats and the Chargers would score three runs each. Wilcox received solid pitching from Justine Valdivia. The junior worked well with her batterymate and fellow 11th grader Athena Gonzales who was a rock behind the plate.
Offensively, two of the standouts, in particular, were senior Alyssa Butler who picked up a pair of singles, and junior Jessica Gutierrez who smoked a line-drive triple into the right-center gap.
Defensively, Butler made an impressive short-hop scoop for an out at first base, a position she doesn’t practice after having to move to that spot in the middle of the game. Shortstop Reyna Hernandez also showed off her arm with a Brandon Crawford-esque throw, cutting down a runner at the plate with only one out on a ball hit medium deep into the hole between short and third.
“I think we had that ballgame if we just reduce our errors,” remarked Butler on the disappointing loss. “Overall though I think we did good on the other side of the ball.”
According to Head Coach Vanessa Chagoya, the Chargers did commit six errors and none of the Wildcats’ runs were earned. If they can clean up those mistakes, Wilcox looks like a squad with the bones of a team that can have a strong season, particularly with the way Valdivia was performing on the mound. In softball, a single pitcher can pitch 90-plus percent of her team’s innings.
“Justine worked really hard over the summer,” noted Chagoya on her ace. “She worked really hard coming into the season. Her workouts have been impressive and her pitching, she hasn’t perfected it, but she’s almost there. Her spin is much better; she’s hitting her spots a lot more consistently.”
“You can definitely see Justine’s improvement,” echoed Gutierrez. “You can see that she has been putting in the extra work. And Athena is a big help back behind the plate too. Both of them together fit perfectly.”
Wilcox will look to bounce back next when they play a doubleheader this Saturday, March 12. It remains to be seen if Valdivia will pitch both games. It is possible that she will start both games in the circle.
The bigger guarantee is that Gonzales will get a break from squatting behind the plate. All 14 innings in one day would be a tough assignment. Coach Chagoya alluded to Hernandez getting some reps at catcher on Saturday.