Wildfires? big bats ready for playoffs

By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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FORESTHILL ? A pair of lopsided losses at the end of the season might make you think that the Foresthill High softball team ran out of juice in a shortened season. The bats haven?t gone dry for the Wildfires they just took a break as the mental part of the game crept into their minds against better competition. ?We definitely didn?t focus on the last game, that?s for sure,? said Foresthill senior Bailey McDonald. ?We weren?t as pumped up as we usually are.? Foresthill thoroughly dominated a subpar Central Valley Christian League to earn a 7-1 league record. It?s only blemish came Tuesday in a 5-0 loss to Woodland Christian, the Wildfires? only real competition. With the league title already decided before the game, some of the Wildfires admitted to underestimating Woodland, which they had previously beaten four times. The same couldn?t be said Thursday when they faced a hot-handed Elliot Christian team. The Wildfires couldn?t catch up to the faster pitching and were trumped 12-2. The game was expected to serve as a tune up for the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoffs. The Wildfires will face Rio Vista at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Lodi Softball Complex. Instead, it served as a reminder of the disparity in pitching between the other two teams in the CVCL and what Foothill will face in the playoffs. ?Jim Elliot brought a pitcher who could work our batters and knew exactly what she was doing,? Foresthill coach Stacy Stroup said. ?We struggled but we still got a couple big hits, which as a coach it?s always nice to break up a no-hitter and our players were happy about that.? The last two games aside, offense hasn?t been an issue for the Wildfires. They have eight players with batting averages of .400 or better and three at over .500. McDonald leads all hitters with a .600 average and is followed by sophomore outfielder Zoe Moss with .560 and Sadie Stroup at .548. Foresthill has outscored its opponents 93-17 this season but hasn?t faced much competition. The schedule was limited to just 11 games after rain canceled one tournament and the Wildfires pulled out of another during spring break because two of their 11 players weren?t going to make it to the tournament. Ace pitcher Sadie Stroup has controlled the game in the circle with a 6-2 record and a 2.69 earned run average. She has also struck out 73 and walked 14. The steady junior, though, has grown accustomed to pitching with large leads and will have to watch her pitch location in the playoffs to come out with the section title. ?Obviously it takes a lot of stress off of me,? Stroup said of pitching with a lead. ?At that point you don?t have to worry about doing it all because you know you have a great defense behind you.?