PHOTO GALLERY: images from final GVC sweep of the season April 18 in Weed
Even when they set a record that seems like it can’t be topped, the College of the Siskiyous softball Eagles find a way to go higher.
Last year the Eagles posted a perfect 20-0 record on the way to winning the Golden Valley Conference title. This year they made history by going 20-0 for a second consecutive year in the GVC.
The sophomores on this year’s roster are now 40-0 in conference games and 94-8 overall.
They clinched the 2009 conference title with two wins at Butte last Friday, but still went into Saturday’s doubleheader against Shasta in Weed hungry.
“We wanted to win (Saturday) because we wanted to,” is the way head coach Doug Eastman put it.
They needed just about everything they had to knock off a tough Knights team that placed second in conference and will also be going to the postseason.
Ranked No. 1 in the state with a 41-3 record, the Eagles expect to be the No. 1 seed in the Northern California playoffs which they’ll start at home against the No. 16 team from the North on May 2. They won’t know until this coming Saturday who that foe will be.
If they win their best of three playoff opening series, the Eagles will again be at home for another series on May 9.
Their goal at this point is lofty, as you would expect. Everything they do during the two-week break before the playoffs start is being geared to winning a state championship.
In the past, the Eagles have reached the state tournament without their best stuff, Eastman said. In an effort to change that, Eastman is changing their routine.
“In the past I’ve given them some time off,”?Eastman said, “but this year we’re going to do some conditioning Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then go into the weightroom Tuesday and Thursday... We’re going to work hard and get after it.”
The Eagles had their hands full on Saturday against Shasta but came through with 2-0 and 4-3 victories. It was the first time they had allowed more than 2 runs in any GVC doubleheader this season.
The difference between Siskiyous and Shasta this season, according to Eastman, is defense.
In the opening game on Saturday, COS found themselves deadlocked with Shasta 0-0 heading into the sixth inning.
Shasta looked to break the tie in the top of the sixth when they got runners at second and third with one out.
The Jackie "Big Bird" Imhof toughened up and stranded the two Shasta runners, keeping the game tied at 0-0.
Imhof’s stand opened the door for the Lady Eagle offense to break through in the bottom of the sixth inning with two runs to take the 2-0 victory.
COS shut down the Lady Knights in the seventh putting themselves 21 outs away from GVC perfection.
Katie Zauner finished the game 2-3 and Ali Paz finished 1-2 with a walk and a run scored to lead the Eagle offense.
Game two proved to be another tight contest with the Knights striking first with a run in the top of the 3rd.
The Eagles responded in their half of the inning when, after back-to-back singles, Shawna Mayo laid down a sacrifice bunt. The Shasta third baseman fielded the ball cleanly, but her throw sailed over the first baseman’s head, plating two runs for the Eagles.
With a runner on 2nd and nobody out, COS failed to add another run, but took the 2-1 advantage into the 4th.
Shasta quickly erased the one run deficit adding a run in the 4th to make it a 2-2 game.
COS failed to score in the bottom half of the 4th, but pitcher Jordyn Brown stifled the Shasta offense in the top of the 5th to leave the door open for the Eagles offense in the bottom half of the 5th.
Quiet much of the day, the offense awoke in the fifth when with 2 outs, Brittnee McNeely doubled in the go ahead run.
Paz followed with a double to give COS the 4-2 advantage, six outs from the sweep.
The resilient Knights roared back in the sixth with three consecutive one out singles to make it a 4-3 game with runners on second and third.
With the game on the line, Eastman called Imhof out of the bullpen to shut-down Shasta.
"Big-Bird" made it look easy with a pop-out to second baseman Cheyanna Ohlrich for out No. 2, and a ground out to Ohlrich for out No. 3.
After the Eagles failed to add any runs in the bottom of the sixth, Imhof lead the team onto the field three outs from perfection.
Imhof made quick work of the leadoff hitter sitting her down with a strike out, but ran into trouble when a routine chopper decided to stay down and rolled under the glove of Ohlrich and into right field.
The next Shasta hitter then stroked a single to put at the corners.
With the game on the line, Imhof blew away the next two Knights in impressive fashion to seal the victory and 40th consecutive GVC win for COS.
Crissy Watts led Siskiyous’ offense with two hits and a run scored in game two, while Paz followed with a double, run scored, and a RBI.
Janelle Cromie and Ohlrich each tallied one hit for the Lady Eagles.
Imhof capped her GVC career with three strikeouts in the top of the seventh for the save.
"Jackie (Imhof) is a whole different ball game this year. She wasn’t pitching for strikeouts today, her goal was to keep the ball down and in the park against Shasta’s powerful offense," pitching coach Larry Cook said. "She’s added pitches and overall she is a lot better pitcher than last year."