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Lady Eagles softball team comes out swinging, lose season opener to El Cerrito

on February 25, 2013

On Friday, Lady Eagles head softball coach Amanda Stevens stood outside the dugout during the fourth inning and watched the first game of the year with a handful of fans near home plate. Red tape—Steven’s background check hasn’t been reviewed by the school district—kept the first-year coach from getting closer to the diamond. Tim Logan, Kennedy’s head baseball coach, pinch-hit for Stevens and filled out the starting line-up and acted as the third-base coach throughout the game.

“You in the hot corner, baby,” Stevens shouted from behind the chain-link fence to third baseman, Shantierra Hill, as the Lady Eagles’ gold glover inched closer to home plate and guarded an El Cerrito baserunner at the same time.

“Julia, watch her on third,” the head coach again hollered from near the bleachers, this time to her catcher, Julia Tupuola, as the Lady Gaucho baserunner danced off the bag to entice a throw.

“2-5 you’re looking real good—real good,” Stevens called out to pitcher Rachelle Lee whose jersey number is 25, as she recorded her first out of the inning: a 9-3 put out by right fielder Stephanie Ruiz.

But it was too late. El Cerrito was in the midst of closing the door on Kennedy’s first preseason game of the year, and scored 12 runs in their last at-bat. In the fifth inning Kennedy mounted a comeback, but the Lady Gauchos ended the game on an unassisted triple play by third baseman Gaby Flamenco. El Cerrito would go on to win 26-12.

For the game, Lee faced 42 batters in four innings and gave up 16 walks. She allowed 13 hits and recorded zero strikeouts.

When asked why Lee pitched the entire game Stevens said she wanted her to get used to the pressure. “I told her before the game ‘I don’t expect strikes, I don’t expect strikeouts, I just want you to go out there and do your best with a great attitude,'” she said of a pitcher that only started throwing the ball for strikes four days ago.

Lee, who normally plays first base, said she decided to give pitching a try because Kennedy’s primary thrower, Maria Llose, was hurt. “It was nerve wracking [out there today], but when my team supported me and comforted me it made me feel better,” she said of her first time on the mound. “I actually do see myself being a pitcher. At first I thought I was out of place, but as the game went on I was like, ‘It’s not so bad.'”

After the game, the team huddled down the left field line and reflected on the game. As the sun faded and the biting wind gained momentum, shortstop Showntianee Stewart, stepped into the middle of the circle and spoke her mind. “I missed a couple of balls and I was mad,” she said as she looked everyone in the eye. “I got hit—I was mad. But I kept it together and I tried. And I almost cried, but I didn’t.”

Stewart ended her speech with a smile and gave everyone encouraging high-fives.

“A lot of people improved heck-a-much,” said first baseman Aja Sainten as she walked down Ashbury Avenue after the game. “If you would’ve seen us at tryouts you wouldn’t have thought this would’ve happened today. Our old team never got any points on the board at all.”­

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