Warriors left black and blue
AMITY – Amity softball: physically willing, if not completely able.
Colton arrived at Amity High School for a Friday afternoon Class 3A West Valley League contest to find a Warriors squad banged up – six of its 11 varsity players are nursing some manner of injury – but hoping to play spoiler.
“We’re going through ice, Ibuprofen, Icy Hot,” Amity coach Don Zapata said with a chuckle. “We have stock.”
The Vikings raced out to a 7-1 lead after three innings and withstood late charges by the Warriors to win, 10-5, and vault over Amity (3-5, 1-2 WVL) in the league standings. A difficult result, but one that revealed a measure of fight within the Warriors.
“Colton’s good,” Zapata said. “They’re one of the teams we always have problems with. They have a tendency to capitalize on all their chances, whether it’s our defensive errors or hitting errors.”
The Vikings (5-6, 2-1 WVL) tested Amity’s defense to the tune of nine Warrior errors. Second baseman Caitlyn Weinberger scored Colton’s first run of the game on an error by Amity catcher Delaney Cruz with the bases loaded; the Vikings would score two more runs directly off errors.
With the bases loaded in the second inning, Colton’s Joslyn Stansfield hit a triple off Warriors starting pitcher Koana Leno to bring in all three base runners. The Vikings tagged Leno for three more runs in the third inning, putting pressure on a pitcher already ailed with a headache.
“We dug ourselves into deep holes that we can’t get ourselves out of,” Zapata said.
Amity kept up the fight. Senior Amity Horton doubled to lead off the second inning and later scored on a wild pitch. Cruz was hit by a pitch to begin the third inning, with singles by Patty O’Leary and Leno following; Cruz, Madelynn Krotzer (pinch-running for O’Leary) and Leno all scored to cut the deficit to 7-4.
From that point, however, Vikings pitcher Becky Patterson kept the Warriors’ bats at bay, allowing one hit past the fourth inning. (Allie Steele walked and scored on a wild pitch in the fifth inning.)
“Offensively we need to get a little stronger,” Zapata said. “We need to be offensive-minded at the plate.”
Instead, Colton stayed aggressive as freshman Shayla Pendergraft came on in relief of Leno. The Vikings plated two in the fifth inning and one in the seventh to quash the Warriors’ hopes.
Pendergraft went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and a single, the only Amity player with multiple hits.
The Warriors’ efforts to compete in the WVL suffered another setback on Apr. 9, when Dayton defeated Amity 14-1. Sierra Ray went 3-for-4 with three doubles and two RBI while pitching a complete game for the Pirates. Stephanie Jacks went 4-for-4, and Sydney Van Noy went 2-for-4 with four RBI.
Horton, Leno, and O’Leary all had singles against Dayton, while Pendergraft had a double and the game’s only run.
“When we played Dayton, we were aggressive,” Horton said. “I walked off that field proud.”
Amity softball opts to take the long view when deconstructing 2014. Four of the 11 Warriors are seniors, leaving a large underclass to continue to learn the game. Amity made the West Valley League playoffs in 2013, but the program is not too far removed from winning a combined four games from 2008 to 2011.
“I think we have grown stronger and gotten closer over past years,” Horton said. “Over past years, it was, you’ve got groups over here, you’ve got groups over here. There’s been fighting in the past.”
For now, the fight is on the field. Some days, it hurts.