Titans edge Mustangs in playoffs

The Minarets High softball team (14-17), after getting off to a first inning 4-0 lead, was defeated 9-6 in the second round off the D-V playoffs last week by the Orange Cove Titans. In a re-match of last year’s first round playoff game in which the Titans ended the Mustangs season.

Starting pitcher Kalea Kamalani opened the game with a double, and Baylee Avina reached first on a fielder’s choice. Left fielder Gianna Poalinna was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Delaney Reardon, who doubled to left/center, driving in two runs and going on to score following a throwing error by the Titans.

It was a 1-2-3 inning for the Mustangs defense. Faith Nolan, who went 4 for 4 in the game, singled to open the second frame, and sophomore Sarah Parker followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Nolan was forced on a fielder’s choice putting Parker at second. She advanced on another hit by Kamalani, a single to center, later scoring on a wild pitch to put Minarets up 4-0 in the second inning.

The Titans answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame, cutting the Mustangs lead to 4-2.

The Mustangs scored another run in the top of the third after Alex Jimenez singled with two outs in the inning. Nolan advanced Jimenez with her second hit on the game to put the Mustangs in scoring position. A Titan error helped Jimenez score, as Parker reached base following the error, and on the next play Jimenez scored on a passed ball.

Orange Cove tied the game up in the bottom of the inning. Just as in the Mustangs boy’s playoff game, fundamentals, or the lack of practicing them, came into play as the Mustangs committed two errors and walked one to surrender the lead. It was tied 5-5 at the end of 3 innings played.

Coach Ginny Taylor called on Baylee Avina to take the mound, and Kamalani took over duties behind the plate going into the fourth frame. The game would remain tied until the 6th inning when the wheels came off the bus for Minarets. Again errors played a large role as the Mustangs gave up gave up 3 runs in the inning -- 8-5 Orange Cove.

Down but not out, the Mustangs went into the bottom of the 7th needing four runs to tie after giving up another unearned run in the 6th and trailing 9-5. Again, Nolan continued to set the table, as the second-year player had her best game of the year, with yet another hit. The Mustangs scored one run and ended the game with the tying run at the plate.

A sad way for the season to end, but a wake up call to all players to realize the commitment needed to run a successful program -- any program, be it baseball, softball, or football. Commitment on the field as well as off the field; commitment in the classroom as well as on the field; commitment to being at practice day in and day out when your friends are out having a good time.

The Mustangs started the season with a team bonding program on the ropes course at Fresno State. From the experience on the course, the team put together three key elements they felt were strongest for them to succeed as a team: commitment, collaboration and communication.

The team ended the season with the same three elements to improve on during the off season. The Mustangs softball team will take part in the summer program held at Buchanan this summer and is organizing a travel squad to play in the off season.