TOPPENISH – A clean slate, a fresh start.
That was the approach to last Saturday’s Toppenish fastpitch jamboree by the Grandview and Sunnyside high school programs.
Playing a pair of three-inning, non-counting practice games against Grandview and the host Wildcats, Sunnyside didn’t keep score.
“We weren’t finished with our evaluations, so we played a lot of youth,” said Lady Grizzly Coach Ronaldo Aquirre. “We have a lot of inexperience..we need to cover a lot of fundamentals.”
Though he didn’t keep score or stats for either mini-game, Aguirre conceded that Sunnyside’s opponents had the advantage.
Grandview Coach Ramiro Gonzalez kept score of his team’s jamboree games, a 9-3 loss to Granger and a 5-1 victory over the Lady Grizzlies.
Jennifer Donan was Grandview’s starting pitcher in both games. Julissa Rodriguez came on in relief against Granger. Gabrielle Miller was the catcher for both of the Lady Greyhounds’ jamboree games.
Offensive highlights for Grandview included Esther Perez with a hit, two runs scored and a stolen base against Granger.
In the three-inning tilt against Sunnyside, Grandview’s Cindi Pineda had a double and scored a run, while Suzie Medina smacked a single, stole two bases and scored a run.
“This was an excellent opportunity to see our players in action,” said Gonzalez. “Seven of the 11 players got their first experience playing at the varsity level. We found out many areas that we need to continue to work hard at, to improve. I was happy to see our pitchers throw strikes. They had no varsity experience before this jamboree.”
Sunnyside’s coach, Aguirre, in his first year at the helm, viewed the non-counting jamboree games as a warm-up for the actual season.
“I told our players this was just a practice,” he said. “Everybody got to play and we were able to finish our evaluations.”
Sunnyside had 51 girls try out for softball this season, and now has 39 players ready to go at the varsity, JV and C squad levels.
“We’ve found some players who can play,” said Aguirre.
They include shortstop Maricruz Bravo. “An excellent athlete, a senior leader,” the coach said.
Sunnyside has also found a pitcher in junior Logan Pickel. “She has good form, good control…very consistent,” Aguirre said.
Other starters the Lady Grizzlies uncovered through the evaluation process include catcher Maggie Torres, as well as infielders Michelle Galvez and Makayla Schilperoort.
Sunnyside and Grandview will officially open the 2015 season against each other this coming Thursday. The non-league game will be at Sunnyside on the field at Ninth Street and Lincoln Avenue, behind the Sunnyside School District building. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.