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Don't press panic button yet

It didn't take long for Monica Hall to build a rapport with her new team.

The loquacious sophomore transfer from Modesto Junior College fit perfectly into the Merced College softball team's dynamic.

Hall even found a sort of kindred spirit in first baseman Mallory Bair.

Or as coach Steve Cassady puts it, someone who can rival Hall's gift for gab.

"The two of them are always talking at every practice Cassady said. "One day I asked them, 'Don't you ever run out of things to talk about?'

"Monica said, 'No, we discover knew things everyday.' "

Despite the duo's propensity for quick one-liners, both seemed at a loss for words to explain MC's slow start out of the gate.

"It's frustrating, because we're working really hard in practice," Bair said. "We return a lot of people and we ended last year by winning 13 in a row.

"We thought we could carry that over into the start of this season."

Instead the She-Devils have opened the year a disappointing 4-4.

MC's pitching hasn't delivered as Cassady expected, but more frustrating to him has been the She-Devils' defense.

Deemed one of the team's biggest strengths before the year began, MC has committed 12 errors in its first six games.

"I was definitely expecting us to start a little better," Cassady said. "Our pitching hasn't been great, but they've still been games we should win."

As elusive as the answers might be, Hall said no one is in panic mode.

"We're a stronger team than they were last year," Hall said. "We know we're good.

"We haven't played great yet, but we lift each other's spirits up."

Cassady said he'll have a better feel for his team's makeup by the time the weekend is over.

With Thursday's doubleheader against Diablo Valley and the start of the COS Stars-N-Stripes tournament today, MC will play eight games in four days.

MC opens the tournament with a 1 p.m. game against Shasta at She-Devil Diamond and a 6 p.m. nightcap against Gavilan.

"I think it'll be good for us," Cassady said. "It's a survival thing. You find out who you are and what you can do."

COS Stars-N-Stripes Tournament

At Merced College

Today's Games

Shasta vs. Merced, 1 p.m.

Shasta vs. Gavilan, 3:30 p.m.

Gavilan vs. Merced, 6 p.m.

Saturday's Games

West Valley vs. Merced, 11 a.m.

Sierra vs. Merced, 1:15 p.m.

West Valley vs. Sierra, 3:30 p.m.

Sunday's Games

Modesto vs. Merced, 10 a.m.

S. Nevada vs. Merced, 12:15 p.m.

Modesto vs. Cosumnes, 2:30 p.m.

Cosumnes vs. S. Nevada, 4:30 p.m.