The first four weeks of the 2017 Coast Union softball season were neither fun nor friendly, as the team was on the short end of one lopsided score after another. This is what happens when a team from a small school is asked to play schools with far more students, and far more advanced softball programs.
Coast was humbled by teams like Nipomo, Morro Bay, Templeton, Santa Maria, Washington Union and Mission Prep. But the Lady Broncos broke through against Avenal on March 17, downing the Lady Buccaneers, 16-1 for their first win of the season.
Nearly two weeks later, on Thursday, March 30, Coast Union began play in the Coast Valley League, traveling to Arroyo Grande to play the Coastal Christian Conquerors, and Coast came out on top, 19-9. Coach Steve Kniffen praised the pitching of Ani Corbet, and the effort she put in at Coastal Christian.
“Ani is such a good pitcher, she makes us lazy. We can make a mistake and Ani will save us in the Coast Valley League.”
He added that the team will need to tighten up its defense and learn to put the ball in play if it gets into the CIF playoffs.
In the game against the Conquerors, Kniffen said his instinct was to let Corbet go just three innings and then bring in another less-experienced pitcher, Zoe Markham, which he did. His strategy was to have the defense “Rise to the need to actually execute in moments that matter.”
However, Coastal Christian rallied for nine runs in the fourth.
“The umpires didn’t like the way Zoe was engaging her hand in her pre-pitch motion” and hence, she was called for four “illegal pitches,” Kniffen explained. At the same time, the defense behind Zoe “threw the ball all over the place and we could not get our gloves to work,” during the nine-run fourth inning.
The coach said the team needs practice at “the fundamentals” of softball. It gets “boring to practice fundamentals,” he said, and he takes responsibility. “I should do better.”
On Tuesday, April 4, the softball team entertained Shandon High School, defeating the Lady Outlaws 20-10. The next home game for the Lady Broncos is Friday, April 7, against Maricopa, at 3:30 p.m., the third Coast Valley League tilt for the 2-0 Coast Union team.
Coming into this week, Serena Valenzuela led the team with a .364 batting average; Corbet was sporting a .348 average. Corbet and Valenzuela lead the team with eight runs batted in.