Los Banos High’s softball team got a confidence boost this week with an 8-5 victory over Orestimba on Monday and a 10-0 victory over Le Grand on Tuesday.
After an 0-5 start, and with Western Athletic Conference play looming, the wins couldn’t come at a better time.
“I like how we’re starting to put the bat on the ball. We’re starting to make contact – hard contact. Making quality outs. That’s the stuff we weren’t doing in the Ceres tournament,” Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso said. “Now we were seeing some better pitching there, but I’ve always said this from the beginning, pitching is always going to be ahead of hitting at the start of the season. It’s a timing mechanism with hitting. Our timing is starting to get where we need it to be. On Friday, it could be a different story. It’s a weird game.”
The Tigers were the victims of three straight shutouts to start the season – 9-0 to Merced, then a pair of 6-0 losses to Enochs and Sierra on the first day of the Ceres tournament. LB finished the tournament on Saturday with an 8-1 loss to Merced and a 7-1 loss to Hughson.
“I play those teams all the time, because it’s going to make us better. That’s what it’s all about,” Caropreso said. “It was good for us to come out yesterday, get stuff going yesterday swinging the bat, continue it today and go into league on Friday. That’s what you want to get accomplished. Now if I was playing those four teams and starting league right after, that would be a different story.”
Against Le Grand, the Tigers started freshman Alyssa Waltman in the circle. She allowed the leadoff batter on in each of the first four innings, including a leadoff double in the second, but allowed no other base runners in those innings. The Bulldogs went three up, three down in the fifth before the Los Banos offense invoked the 10-run rule with a six-run bottom of the inning.
“I went out there and played those better teams, and now I come out here and it’s a piece of cake,” Waltman said. “I felt we could have done a little better, but it’s helped us in the long run.”
The Tigers also have last year’s starting pitchers, Brianna Flores and Taylor Harris, who also play the hot corner. The surge in offense was a big deal for the Tigers. Waltman went 3-for-4 witha double, Flores was 2-for-2 with a pair of RBI and a Kylee Cardoza added a pair of RBI.
“We have not been able to hit for anything lately, so I think it’s put a lot of confidence back in people that we can still hit the ball just like we do in practice, and got all the jitters out of the way,” Harris said. “I honestly think this is the year we can do something in league. If everything falls into play, and we have a lot of talent on our team this year. We don’t have two positions deep, everyone can play anywhere, and there’s talent everywhere this year.”