The new pieces appear to be falling into place for the Paso Robles High softball team, and the older ones are settling in just fine, too.
Eight different players recorded a hit and five drove in runs as the Bearcats defeated Nipomo 11-1 in six innings in a nonleague contest.
Paso Robles has just two players returning to their same position as last year – shortstop Chloe Kerns and catcher M’Lynn Martin – but the Bearcats improved to 3-0 on the year with Tuesday’s home win.
“It’s been crazy so far,” Martin, a four-year starter behind the plate, said. “Our team is really young and really new, but we’ve been adjusting pretty well. We’re learning how to mesh together and use our chemistry to our advantage when we’re out on the field.”
Kerns and Martin combined for three hits, two RBI and two runs, and plenty of newcomers contributed as well.
In her first varsity start in the circle, Lacey Morris allowed four hits and two walks and struck out three in six innings. The junior also drove in four runs, including a two-run single to left field in the bottom of the sixth that triggered the 10-run rule.
“We mixed it up (Tuesday) with a new pitcher and some different position players to see what happens if we need to make changes,” coach Val Reynolds said. “The girls responded well, and I think we did a great job.”
Freshman Hope Goodall started at pitcher for the Titans (4-4), throwing into the fifth inning, when control issues gave Paso Robles free baserunners and the Bearcats capitalized.
Goodall struck out two, but walked three of the first five batters in the bottom of the fifth, including a bases-loaded walk to Morris that brought home Danielle Lambert.
The next batter, Martin, ripped a single past second base that scored Nicole Raithel and Dakota Rodriguez, breaking the game open at 8-1.
“We’re trying to get our girls to feel comfortable,” said Reynolds, whose team finished second in the PAC 7 last season, but graduated 10 players. “They’re learning new positions and they’re learning new coaching styles. We’re throwing so much at them, and we’re just hoping they can absorb most of what we’re saying and be able to execute.”
Morris and the defense behind her appeared comfortable the whole afternoon — even after Nipomo put runners on base in each of the first three innings.
Nipomo’s Marisa Rodriguez hit a one-out double in the top of the first inning, but Morris got Ashley Ruiz to fly out to right field and Saundra Renner to ground out to second to end the threat.
After Anahi Vences opened the top of the second with a single and moved to third on a steal and a passed ball, the duo of Morris and Martin induced three straight infield pop ups.
“We knew they wanted to pull everything, so we threw a lot outside,” Martin said. “When they started lifting the balls, we started throwing them down so they’d just hit little grounders. It worked perfectly because our fielders were behind us 100 percent.”
Paso Robles opened the scoring with three runs in the second, including an RBI triple to right field from freshman Mikayla Stone. The Titans got on the board in the third on an RBI groundout from Ruiz, but gave up two runs in the bottom half on a single by Lambert and a passed ball.
The Bearcats led 5-1 in the top of the fifth, when Nipomo drew a pair of one-out walks to get runners on first and second. Just as Martin predicted, the low pitches worked to perfection as the next two Titans grounded out.
“(Morris) held her composure,” Reynolds said. “I thought for her first varsity start, she did great.
“And M’Lynn did a good job behind the plate. Thank goodness that she’s back there, because she calls the game for us. She’s just solid, and she’s very knowledgeable. The girls have a lot of confidence in her.”
Confidence was a keyword for Martin, too, saying that’s exactly what a young team can gain from early season results such as this.
“With all these new
players and new positions, we’re really just trying to get some confidence,” she said. “Especially for the young-ins, who are coming in and playing their first year of varsity – it’s pretty intense. So, wins are always good for confidence.”