Eagles fail in bid for softball playoffs; fall to River City, 15-8

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Vista del Lago softball coach Robert Reed said the goal this season for his team was to qualify for the playoffs.

The Eagles fell short of that goal, but still earned some playoff experience, as the team’s last two games had playoff implications. In Tuesday’s regular-season finale at Union Mine, the Eagles needed a win to secure a playoff spot. Beaten 11-1, they didn’t get it, so Wednesday they were part of a three-team playoff along with Liberty Ranch and River City to see which team would qualify. The Eagles lost to River City, 15-8, and were eliminated, while Liberty Ranch defeated River City to earn the spot.

“We definitely did a lot of good things this season with kids playing out of position, but we just weren’t consistent enough,” Reed said. “We were up 8-4 and were in control of the game, but you have to finish and we didn’t do that. We haven’t had consistent pitching, fielding or offense all season and today, River City didn’t give up. For the first five innings, we showed how we can play. If we would have played that way all season, we wouldn’t even have been in this three-team playoff, but it’s a great lesson learned for these girls.”

Leading 8-5 and six outs away from advancing to face Liberty Ranch with a playoff berth on the line, the Eagles allowed 10 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on six hits, three walks and three errors. The rally started with two infield hits and was followed by a walk and then a two-run double that cut the lead to 8-7.

Back-to-back Vista errors first tied the game at eight and then loaded the bases for what turned out to be the game-winning hit, which made it 9-8 in River City’s favor. From there the Raiders tacked on six more runs, all with two outs, and the rout was on.

Cherise Silvan, Ashley Muzzi, Lindsey Fenton and Gaby Segura had two hits for the Eagles, while Lauren Reed drove in two runs to lead the offense.

Despite the disappointment in the way the season ended, Vista finished the year with a solid 15-11 record. Injuries devastated the roster, as catcher Amanda Machado was lost for the season in the team’s second game and later infielder Emily Moran suffered a season-ending injury.

Pitcher Olivia Brown missed several games with a tender shoulder, forcing Segura to the mound for the first time, while Kayla Riley was asked midseason to come out for the team and lend support. Everywhere you turned players were learning new positions in a short time and the team still had a winning season.

“I didn’t think we’d have a chance at the playoffs early on,” said Muzzi, one of the team’s three seniors along with Riley and Nicole Bruns. “I was nervous with all the freshmen (five were on the roster at season’s end), but they stepped up and showed me that they could play. They impressed me.”

Reed said next year’s team will be much deeper and there will be more competition among the players. His message to his team after the game was simple: keep improving because playing time is not guaranteed.

“We could have a chance at the league title and maybe a section title next year, but the girls have to be hungry,” Reed said.