The CPS softball team finished their league season in 1st place, as far as I know, that’s never happened before.  My understanding is that back when the Schimmel girls played there, they had pitching, but not a whole lot else.  They were also playing some pretty tough teams (Berean).  Nevertheless, to come as far as they have is remarkable, and the feeling is more good things are on the way.

The program nearly folded three years ago when only 7 girls showed interest in being on the team.  Enter 2 sophomores, Haley R. and Rachel.  Green as they can be, never having played the sport, they were persuaded to join and the team received a breath of life.  Players of modest ability, they showed up consistently, worked hard and improved their skills over the years.

Tuesday was Seniors day, and coach Sean honored Haley, Rachel, and Haley G. by giving each an inning to pitch against California School for the Deaf in the Cougars’ final game of the regular season.  Without hesitation or complaint, 3 girls who had never pitched took the circle that day.  Having already secured a 1st place finish, Natalie pitched the 1st 2 innings, followed by Haley G., Haley R. and Rachel.

It got a little ugly in the third and we were looking at a 7 run deficit.  But it wasn’t without highlights, Haley R. threw a total of 4 pitches, caught a pop up, benefited from a gem of a double play (3-4-5: Sadie scooped a grounder, fed to Lisa ccovering first, fired to Helen at third as the lead runner tried to advance), and retired the side 1-2-3.  Haley G. has been outstanding all season. She’s a great kid with a lot of determination, and a real team leader.  Her pitching, well, let’s not go there.  Rachel gave up 1 run on 1 hit, showed genuine enthusiasm when she threw a called strike, and almost got the win, since we tied it up during the home half of her inning.

Characteristic of this group of girls is their unwillingness to concede.  The bench was on their feet and very vocal as contributions came from up and down the lineup. A 6 run rally in the 5th, 2 more in the 6th, and we have a tie ball game.  And hope. With Natalie back on the mound, the game remained a 9-9 tie through 7 innings.  An error led to a run in the top of the 8th, and CPS their chance to answer.  Down by 1, they answered, as the middle of the order took charge.  Helen and Lisa were patiently selective, and both walked.  With 1 out, Natalie punched an 0-1 pitch to right, singling to drive in her 3rd run and tie the game at 10.  With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Sadie scorched one up the middle, scoring Lisa and closing out a 13-1 season.

Next up: playoffs and NCS.