By Luke Holthouse and David Kolin
A full decade separated the softball team from its last Mission League Championship when the team began its quest for one this season. Ten games and no losses later, the Wolverines emerged from the league play with their goal for the season accomplished.
A 10-10 tie with Notre Dame during the first league game of the season was the lone blemish on the league record of the Wolverines. They won their next nine games in league by a combined score of 92-19.
“I was extremely happy for the girls,” Head Coach Joe Aranda said. “They had worked extremely hard to get to this point, and it had been a long dry spell for us. We had kind of been the doormat for a while, so to finally get over that hump and climb over that mountain was extremely gratifying.”
The first-place finish in league clinched a playoff spot for the Wolverines.
After beating Charter Oaks 2-1 in the first round, the team’s season came to a close May 22, when Warren High School beat the Wolverines for the second year in a row.
Warren dropped the Wolverines 9-0 in the first round of playoffs last year and, the Bears eliminated the Wolverines 9-2 in the second round this year. The loss snapped a seven game winning streak for the Wolverines that stretched back to the Valley Invitational Tournament in late April.
“We could have beaten them if we had just taken advantage of our opportunities,” pitcher Lauren Li ’12. “That being said, Warren is a great team.”
The Wolverines stranded fourteen runners on base during the game and loaded the bases in three different innings without scoring, Aranda said.
Outfielder Jordan Ellison ’15 said the team hit well, but just did not string the hits together at the right time.
“There were a lot of people left on base,” Ellison said. “There just was not as much clutch hitting as we’ve had in the past.”
Two seniors will leave the team this year, Li and Tiffany Liao ’12. Li was the first pitcher in the rotation while Liao was a utility player.
Pitcher Chloe Pendergast ’13 said she and Madeline Kaplan ’13 will have the difficult challenge of replacing Li’s contributions in the circle. Li was a member of the varsity squad all four years of her high school career. Kaplan, who returned to the team this season after missing a year from school because of a serious concussion, started in right field and didn’t pitch because of an elbow injury.
“Hopefully she’ll be back,” Pendergast said. “As of now, I’d be the only pitcher, and that’d be really hard, so hopefully her elbow is all good to go.”
With eight of nine starters from the team returning, third baseman Theo Miesse ’13 expects the team to make another run at a league title.
“[Li and Liao] are both really great players both on and off the field,” Miesse said. “I really enjoyed having them as teammates and friends. But, at the same time, I feel like we still have a lot of talent on our team, so [their leaving] will definitely impact the team, but we’ll get through it. I think we’ll have an awesome season next year.”