Sophomores say goodbye

Mustangs split doubleheader, finishing third in the Bay Valley

With the smell of fresh cut grass in the air, Los Medanos College softball took the field in their wedding gown-white uniforms to celebrate sophomore night before splitting the final doubleheader of the season against Napa Valley College Tuesday, April 21.

But before the games began the Mustangs’ coaching staff honored seven sophomores. Interim head coach Tim Rognlien announced on the microphone each player’s position, notable accomplishments and above 3.0 GPAs before giving them a gift bag, a balloon and a bouquet of flowers.

In addition to honoring the outgoing sophomores, the coaching staff singled out two players, Gabrielle Worley and Crystal Hicks, as well as mother of starting pitcher Jenna Leavitt, Kathie Leavitt, for keeping score all season long.

With the ceremonies out of the way, it was time for the National Anthem and the two final games of the year to begin.

On the mound for the Mustangs was the workhorse of the team, Leavitt, for the final time in her career with LMC and the first inning started about as well as could be expected, setting down the Storm in order.

For Napa, Jena Pescio took the mound. Although she gave up a single and a walk, she too put up a zero in the first inning.

The game was quiet on the scoreboard until the bottom of the fourth in a big way when the Stangs got to Pescio, scoring four runs and taking a big lead.

This was a back-and-forth battle between the two and no lead was safe as the Storm came right back in the top of the fifth with a game-tying grand slam off of the bat of Olivia Henderson.

Napa would load the bases again in the inning, but Leavitt would get out of the jam.

The Stangs scored in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead but again the Storm answered back with one of their own in the top of the sixth.

The Mustangs bounced right back in the bottom of the sixth for what would end up being the game-winning run, as Leavitt shut the Storm down in the seventh for the final win of her LMC career.

The back-and-fourth battle was exactly what Rognlien new his team was capable of.

“First game showed what kind of a team we really are. The kids fought back,” he said. “We jumped ahead, they tied us up, we went back ahead, they tied us up, we went back ahead and it was just bang, bang, bang. The kids really played like we really thought they could all year.”

The second game was started by Quincey “Q” Pierce, and early on it looked like it was going to be a similar game to the first one. The Stangs struck first with one run in the bottom of the first but in the top of the second the Storm came right back with one run of their own.

That one run would be all the Stangs would get off Storm starting pitcher Jordan Samson and the Storm offense would get rolling, scoring three in the third inning, four in the fourth and another four in the sixth inning, to put the team ahead 11 and end the game via mercy rule.

The big blow of the game was the second grand-slam of the day by Henderson who ended the day with two home runs and ten runs batted in on three hits.

While the first game showed Rognlien and his coaching staff the team could play, the second game was what he was teaching the team all year: bad things happen if you cannot catch the ball.

“If you don’t catch the ball, you don’t win games,” said Rognlien. “We didn’t catch the ball, we didn’t win the game.”

With the loss of the second game the Mustangs finished with a conference record of 10-10 and an overall record of 16-19 putting them in third place in the Bay Valley’s final standings.

While the team missed the playoffs, a third place finish and ten conference wins is a huge improvement over the two wins from last season and allows Rognlien to nominate five players for Bay Valley’s end of season awards.

“I have five ladies I am nominating,” Rognlien said. “I don’t want to give out the names but there are four sophomores and one freshman.”

Moving forward, the team will be in much better shape than in years past. Although they are losing seven sophomores they will have seven freshmen returning and, unlike years past, they will have summer and fall ball to get them prepared for the 2016 season.