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June 23, 2021

Prep Softball: Balers look to regain mojo

The San Benito High softball team is looking to regain its mojo.
When the Haybalers won eight consecutive Central Coast Section Division I playoff championships from 2006 to 2013, the run was characterized by great pitching, clutch hitting and the ability to make less mistakes than their opponents in the biggest games.
However, in the Balers’ four losses this season, they’ve been the ones making the mistakes at critical junctures in the game. Balers coach Scott Smith said he’s still trying to figure out why this year’s team has made backbreaking errors in each of its three losses—all to teams that had Division I-bound pitchers in the circle.
“We had one of those meltdown innings (against Port), which seems pretty typical for us this year,” said Smith, referring to a 5-3 defeat to Port of Los Angeles in the semifinals of the Spring Jamboree Tournament in Las Vegas three weeks ago. “We have a couple of little hiccups, or we let up and can’t seem to close the door. I blame myself for that, obviously, that I haven’t gotten the right formula for the team to play a full seven innings, so I have to figure it out.”
Despite its inability to play mistake-free ball against its toughest opponents so far this season, San Benito was 16-5 overall and 6-1 in Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division play entering Thursday’s game against Monterey.
In the Spring Jamboree, the Balers went 5-1 to take home third-place honors out of a 36-team field that featured some top-flight competition.
Britnee Rossi, the No. 2 batter in the lineup, hit over .650 and had an on-base percentage of .900 in Las Vegas, and Callee Heen also hit over .600 in the tournament.
The speedy Rossi has been a huge boost for the team, getting on base with regularity and playing strong defense in the outfield. Heen is hitting over .600 for the season, Suzy Brookshire is coming on strong and Adriana Ibarra has pitched life a bona-fide ace for the second year in a row.
Freshman Amanda Moisa and Enedina Canales have also been throwing well, giving Smith a solid option in the rare case if Ibarra gets in trouble or needs to come out of the game.
Freshman Chloe Cortez has done a nice job hitting in the ninth spot, getting on base regularly to set up the top of the order featuring Ibarra, Rossi, Heen and Brookshire. Maddy Gutierrez and Makayla Johnson have also been productive offensively, adding an extra dimension to the lineup.
San Benito has seven games left in the league season, and Smith said he expects Notre Dame-Salinas will be the team’s toughest competition for the league championship.
However, Smith added that teams like North Salinas and Gilroy also present a challenge.
“Gilroy probably has the best pitcher in the league, and North Salinas will be tough,” he said. “Notre Dame is very strong. The fact is if we have one of those blowup innings, anyone can beat us.”
Although the Balers have a nice won-loss record, Smith knows he’ll need to get the players performing at an even higher level if they want to reach their goal of winning a CCS title.
Smith has a long-standing phrase of, “I don’t mind getting beat, but I hate losing.” Translation: Don’t commit errors—physical or mental ones—to help the other team to victory.
“Outside of the Pioneer game (a 7-1 loss on March 21), we’ve lost two other games in which we’ve given up runs we should’ve not allowed or simply not finished well,” Smith said. “I’m not displeased all of our losses have come against quality teams, but in years past, we’ve found a way to win those games. This year we’re the team making the critical mistakes at critical times, and we have to find out why and fix it.”

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