At the beginning of this season, the Yuba College softball team had but one simple goal in mind as the year started: improve. Now that the regular season is all but done, they can safely say, ‘mission accomplished,’ as they stand with a .500 record (16-16 overall, 11-11 in conference). Now the team has a chance to take that goal a step further by earning a playoff berth with a victory over American River on Tuesday afternoon at A.R.
One doesn’t have to ask any member of this team how badly they want a playoff shot. You can see it in their eyes, during pre-game warmups, and on the field during gametime. From the subs in the dugout, to the starters, the desire to win is everywhere.
Veteran first baseman Christina “Stank” Allis knows. She knows how different this team was a year ago. She was there as the team labored through an abysmal season, winning just two games.
“I think we can make it there. We definitely have the skills to do it,” Allis said.
“It also depends on the mood of the team,” she added.The team does boast quite a skillful, albeit young group.
Freshman slinger Marisa Vodden, who has carried the pitching workload for most of the season, has thrown consistently well, despite being a favorite target of opposing batters at times. Vodden can be counted on to shut down the guns of the opposition, keeping the 49ers in virtually every game, taking some pressure off of Yuba batters, though scoring runs was not nearly as tough this year as it was last year.
Behind Vodden is a quick defensive unit anchored by second year players Allis, and infielder Marcella Mitchell, that has come together in the second half of the season. Mitchell was recently voted Yuba College Athlete of the Week for her timely defense, as well as her offensive output in a game against Delta. Yuba has also had consistent offensive output from Taryn Schreckengost, Erin Hendrix, and Jennifer Dedeker.Coach Stephanie Reynolds gives credit to her core of veteran players for keeping focused through the highs and lows of this season.
“Our sophomores contributed a lot to this team throughout the year,” Reynolds said. “There were times when they could’ve gotten frustrated this season, but they chose to focus on the positives, and that brought us through,” she added.
One of those tough times, possibly the low of the entire year, was during a tournament at Sacramento City College where the 49ers badly lost three in a row on the first day of the tourney, including a game in which Yuba did not get a single hit, and the teams defense suffered as well, giving up 27 hits and committing nine errors over the three games.The team stayed focused and positive throughout the rest of the season, and as a reward, has earned a shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 1998.