Lady Cougars lose 10-8 in final game

A long, hard season is over for the Taft College softball team.

The results (6-38) the team and coaches would like to forget.

But the learning experience is what the young Cougars will take with them and hope it carries over into next year.

For the record, the Cougars ended the season Tuesday by dropping a 10-8 decision to West Hills College in Coalinga.

TC cracked seven consecutive singles to open the fourth inning, scoring six times and taking a 6-3 lead.

West Hills scored twice in the bottom half of the inning and five times in the fifth on just two hits, two walks and two errors.

The Cougars got runs in the sixth and seventh, but couldn’t catch up.

Taft out-hit West Hills 14-10 with Casey Narusawa going 3-for-4.  Sarah Johnson, Savannah Mathews, Jazmine Kendall and Tessa Asuega all had two hits.  Monica Lovato and Nina Atiga collected the other Cougar hits.

Alexandria Soriano, who led the team with a .342 batting average, pitched the first five innings.  Stephanie Powell worked the last two.

“Alex did very well early, but they put up some runs in the fifth,” said head coach Stefanie Walsh.  “That one bad inning made the difference.”

She had only good things to say about her team, which faced hardships all year.

“Next year we will be in really good position,” she said.

That’s because 10 of her 12 players are freshmen.

The only two players Walsh will lose are sophomores Kindell and Asuega, who are volleyball players that came out to help the team.

“Neither of them had played softball before,” Walsh said, “but they are such good athletes that they earned their positions.”

Lack of a pitcher plagued the team early on, then injuries to a thin roster complicated things.
Powell, a second baseman with virtually no pitching experience, stepped in “and did a wonderful job for us.”

Andrea Garza had to move from centerfield to second when Powell stepped into the pitching circle.

First baseman Soriano, like Powell, had little or no pitching experience, but learned to pitch too.
That put added pressure on catcher Lovato.

“Monica did an amazing behind the plate,” Walsh said.  “She is a very level-headed player and really helped Stepanie and Alex.”

She said the difficulties thrown at them during the season toughened her players.

“The girls worked really hard to get through it, and I know they are all stronger because of it.”

Getting a pitcher is her priority for next year.  One of the four who was unable to play this season plans to enroll next fall.

“Getting some help with pitching will put us in a position to put players back into their normal positions.”

She was pleased with the way the team developed over the course of a tough season.

“I watched the growth they made as individuals and as a team this year. Because they were so young they were intimidated.  I saw that confidence build. Overall, I had a good time with this team. They are definitely players I want to go to war with next year.”