Eagles won't have to leave home for Nor Cal softball playoffs

Steve Gerace
Sophomore McKaylee Pittman was named the California Community College Athletic Association's 2011 Player of the Year in Northern California after hitting .496 with 10 home runs and a state-high 68 runs batted in during the regular season. She also tied teammate Faith Evenson for second in the state with 18 doubles. The Player of the Year award earned Pittman All-America recognition.

College of the Siskiyous got the softball seed it hoped for, allowing the Golden Valley Conference champion Eagles to stay on their home diamond in Weed as long as they remain in the Northern California playoffs.

Only if they earn a fifth consecutive trip to the state tournament will the Eagles have to travel, and that’s a road trip they’ll gladly make.

Seeded No. 2 in the North, the 34-5 Eagles are scheduled to open the postseason Saturday against No. 15 West Valley at 2 p.m. Sunday’s first game is scheduled for noon, followed by a third game at 2 p.m., if necessary.

Siskiyous goes into the best-of-three first round series with a lineup that now includes All-American and Northern California Player of the Year McKaylee Pittman, first team All-State catcher Faith Evenson, and first team All-Northern California pitcher Anna Miller.

Those three players are also among a list of 10 Eagles earning All-GVC honors.

That’s what happens when you’ve got a team batting average of .380 and three pitchers with earned run averages between 1.14 and 1.30.

Sophomores Meredith Barnes, Dacia Hale, and Amanda Krueger join sophomore Pittman and freshmen Evenson and Miller on the first team All-GVC list, while sophomore pitchers Vanessa Bodily and Hannah Cooke made second team All-GVC along with freshmen Regan Drake and Kathryn Persaud.

“We’ve got a good lineup from top to bottom,”?coach Doug Eastman said, noting that the Eagles turned a regular season-ending first-place “showdown” against Feather River into a dominating sweep by a combined score of 23-0. “We played to our potential,” Eastman said. “That’s what we can do when we’re on.”

Eastman said he believes his team is “stronger in every facet of the game” than West Valley (19-14), a team the Eagles defeated in their season-opener, 17-1.

West Valley “got much better in the second half of the season,”?Eastman said, and they finished second to San Jose City in the Coast-South Division  Conference.

But the way Eastman sees it, “If we play like a 2 and they play like a 15, we should be fine.”

Joe Spini will bring his barbecue for the weekend of games and will be turning out tri tip and curly fries.

If the Eagles win this weekend, they’ll host one of two super-regionals the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 13 to 15.

Only the winner of the super-regional advances to the state tournament.

“We’ve got a ticket to the concert, now we need to go and listen,” said Eastman.

Only undefeated San Joaquin Delta (37-0) is ranked higher than the Eagles in the North.

And only Solano (.396) has a higher team batting average than the Eagles in the North.

Two other GVC teams, No. 6 Shasta (30-11) and No. 8 Feather River (27-10) are also in North’s top 8.

Eastman praised this year’s Eagles for their willingness to work hard and “do things away from the field that make them better. They have a lot of desire.”

They also hit a lot of home runs and doubles and scored 333 runs in 39 regular season games, nearly 40 percent more than the next highest total among GVC teams, Shasta's 238. The Eagles led the conference by a long shot with 49 home runs (Shasta had 35), 97 doubles (Feather River had 63) and 129 walks (Butte had 89).

Pittman, from Aledo, Tex., becomes the second player in Eastman’s 11 years at the helm to be named Northern California Player of the Year. She received that honor from a group of some 730 athletes, according to Eastman.

She did it by hitting .496 with 10 home runs during the regular season, driving in a state-high 68 runs, and tying for second in the state with 18 doubles. Her fielding at third base was just as good; she committed just four errors in 38 games while handling a team-high 65 assists.

Pittman's batting average was second best in the GVC, behind her teammate Evenson, who led the conference and was fourth in the state at .521. Evenson, a catcher/utility player from Forest Grove, Ore., hit 8 home runs and also tied for second in the state with 18 doubles. She drove in 48 and scored 46, which was second most in the conference behind Hale's 51. In the field, she made 142 put outs and 6 assists with just one error.

Anna Miller's 1.14 ERA was second best among GVC pitchers and 11th best in the state. Only Katie Cotta of San Joaquin Delta (25-0) has a better won-loss percentage in the state than Miller (16-1).

Just below Miller on the GVC pitching leaders' list are Cooke (11-3 with a 1.17 ERA) and Bodily (6-1, 1.30 ERA).

Miller struck out 72 and walked 30 in 91-plus innings; Cooke struck out 68 and walked 23 in 77-plus innings; and Bodily struck out 77 and walked 28 in 64-plus innings.

Barnes, Hale and Krueger are all repeat picks on the first team all-GVC, while Cooke earned second team honors for a second straight year.

Hale, from Hillsboro, Ore., hit .410 with 51 runs scored, 16 doubles, and 3 home runs. She hit a first inning grand slam that launched the Eagles to a 10-0 conference-clinching victory in the final game of the season. Her 29 walks led the GVC and was second most in the state.

Barnes, from Salem, Ore., got off to a slow start but finished strong, hitting 4 home runs in the Eagles' last 5 games, all of them must-win games in the race to the GVC title. Her three-run home run to tie a late-season game at Shasta when the Eagles were down to their final strike was the stuff that sporting dreams are made of. They went on to win that game in extra innings, then won four more to finish with six straight. Barnes ended the regular season with a .349 batting average, 9 home runs, 39 RBI, and 43 runs scored.

Krueger, from Scappoose, Ore., played second base and hit .382. She scored 43 runs, had 11 doubles, 3 home runs, 19 RBI, and walked 22 times. In the field, she had 55 put outs and 50 assists with a .945 fielding percentage.

Shortstop Persaud, from Clackamas, Ore., hit .341 with 8 doubles, 5 home runs, 32 RBI, and 30 runs scored.

Drake, from Oregon City, Ore., played first base and hit .296 with 3 home runs and 27 RBI. She made 253 put outs and 3 assists with just one error.

The 2011 Golden Valley Conference champion College of the Siskiyous softball team. Tied for first place with Feather River going into the final GVC doubleheader of the season, the Eagles left no doubt about it by overwhelming Feather River 13-0 and 10-0 April 19, 2011 in Weed.