STOCKTON – Some good news finally came to the Calaveras High School softball team. Firstly, the back-to-back section champion runners-up won’t go winless in their 2019 campaign. After starting the season 0-2, Calaveras got in the win column for the first time with a 6-2 road victory over the Lincoln Trojans Friday afternoon.
And secondly, Calaveras got its ace pitcher back. After missing all of the offseason and much of the preseason with a knee injury, senior pitcher Bri Head returned to the circle and went six strong innings in her season debut.
Picking up the win and having Head back on the field gave the Calaveras players a reason to smile leaving Stockton.
“The rain pushed a lot of things back and it’s hard because even though we are halfway through March, a lot of our practices have been indoors and we haven’t been able to get a lot of field work,” said Calaveras senior first baseman Alexis Dawe. “Getting this first win was a long time coming, but I’m pretty excited that we got it.”
Head pitched five innings of scoreless ball before allowing two runs to score in the bottom of the sixth, although only one run was earned. Head finished with the win, throwing six innings, allowing two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out two.
“To be honest, going in, I just wanted to get three or four innings out of her to knock off some of the rust, but she was just throwing the ball so well,” said Calaveras head coach Mike Koepp. “The reason why she was able to be out there so long was because she was efficient. She had 53 pitches through five innings and that’s a normal bullpen for us. She probably could have finished the game, but we didn’t want to overextend her. She had a really good outing today.”
Lincoln was able to put a few runners on, but Head pitched to contact and let her infield make plays. Calaveras’ infield played a perfect game and didn’t commit any errors.
“I feel like our infield is solid and I’m confident with them behind me,” said Head.
With Head dealing in the circle, Calaveras struggled to give her some run support. That is, until the top of the third when Calaveras plated four runners. Freshman Madison Clark led off with a bunt single and then stole second. Clark advanced to third on an infield ground out and then scored on an RBI single from Dawe. Alanda Cardon singled to put runners at the corners with only one away. Junior shortstop Keelie Koepp singled to right, which scored Dawe and Calaveras led 2-0. Sophomore Angelina Deleon knocked in Courtney Batterton, who ran for Cardon, to push Calaveras’ lead to 3-0. Koepp scored the fourth and final run of the inning.
In the top of the fifth, Calaveras scored two more times. Koepp singled to center and advanced to second on a passed ball. Deleon walked, which set up runners at first and second. Senior Jordyn Okumura singled, which scored Koepp and she later scored after a ball in the dirt squirted away from the Lincoln catcher.
In the bottom of the seventh, junior Kacie Cosgrove replaced Head in the circle and put the game away, while picking up a save in the process. Cosgrove allowed two hits, but no runs came around to score.
Dawe finished the day going 2 for 4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Koepp went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, a run batted in and a stolen base. Clark was 2 for 3 with a run scored and a stolen base. Okumura had an RBI, scored a run and stole a bag. And Deleon went 1 for 2 with two walks and an RBI.
Even after his team picked up their first win, Koepp doesn’t feel he’s found a starting nine that he can run out game after game.
“We are not at the point where I thought we’d be,” he said. “I still have some questions and some kinks to work out as far as getting some production from some of the returning girls. I think that will come with reps. I’m still looking for a few things and somebody will have to step up and be consistent. I don’t expect world beaters out of some of those spots, but we are looking for a tough out and a solid defender.”
Calaveras (1-2) will begin Mother Lode League play next week. It would be easy to overlook Tuesday’s road game against Sonora and focus on the tough home battle Friday against Amador, but that isn’t the way Koepp feels.
“Sonora has a got a really good pitcher and some athletic girls and I think they are going to better than what everyone thinks this year,” Koepp said. “I think people are just going off of what they’ve seen in the past. I think Sonora is going to be a tough out. It wouldn't’ shock me if Sonora creeped into the playoffs this year.”
Calaveras’ JV team lost to Lincoln 7-5 Friday afternoon. Pitcher Kaydence Norried threw five innings and allowed four runs. Emily Johnson smacked a two-run triple for two of Calaveras’ five runs. Crishay Jaramillo recorded a single up the middle. Randi Adams had a good day in left field, as she made two catches.