State tournament aside, Eagles had a stellar 2011 season

Steve Gerace
Siskiyous head softball coach Doug Eastman, a former McCloud High School, COS and professional baseball player, has done a lot of high-fiving while leading the Eagles to the state championship tournament five years in a row.

The evidence is indisputable that coach Doug Eastman has had remarkable success putting together consistently outstanding softball teams for College of the Siskiyous.

Five consecutive trips to the California Community College Athletic Association Softball State Championships is testimony enough. Add to that all the conference championships, All-American, All-Northern California, and All-GVC players, and dozens of team members who have moved on to four-year programs.

But Eastman admits that he has yet to figure out the formula for winning a state title.

The 2011 Eagles played uncharacteristically poor defense this past weekend at the state tournament in Bakersfield, lost their first two games, and were the first team to be eliminated from the final four.

Seeded No. 2 from Northern California, the GVC champion Eagles finished their season with a 39-8 overall record.

South No. 2 seed Cypress College (42-8) went on to defeat North No. 1 San Joaquin Delta (44-2) on Sunday to win their school’s seventh state softball championship.

“We’ve taken five tries at it in a row and haven’t figured it out,”?Eastman said of Siskiyous’ attempts at the state championship tournament. "The teams that don’t make mistakes are the ones who win. Cypress has pitchers who are above average, but their defense was exceptional.”

Eastman said he was “depressed and upset” for a short time after the Eagles’ exited stage left, but soon began to reflect on “what a special bunch of girls” he worked with this season.

“I told them I would rather take 4th in state with them than 1st with any other team. They have a great work ethic, high academic achievement, great character, and they’re ambitious and funny; a great bunch of young women that their parents did a great job with.”

Nobody remembers when you almost win

Siskiyous played the top seeded teams in the South and North and lost to both Friday night and Saturday in the State Championships.

They lost a late lead and fell, 10-9, in their opener against the South No. 1 seed, Mt. San Antonio, then went hitless and managed only one baserunner during a 12-0 loss to San Joaquin Delta in the tournament’s first elimination game.

Delta also defeated Mt. San Antonio and made it to the championship round before losing to Cypress in Sunday’s finale, 9-1.

Cypress, which also defeated Delta in the first round, was the only team Delta lost to all season.

Cypress knocked Mt. San Antonio (42-6) out of the winner’s bracket with a 4-0 victory Saturday.

Delta earned its spot in the championships with a 6-4 win over Mt. San Antonio.

Siskiyous committed 13 errors in its two state games that led to 17 unearned runs. “It wasn’t the defense that I thought we would take down there,” said Eastman. “It was very contagious.”

Despite 7 errors in their opener against Mt. San Antonio, the Eagles held a 9-8 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Mt. San Antonio had taken a 7-0 lead before the Eagles scored 6 runs in the third and 3 in the fourth. Then Mt. San Antonio scored an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to tie the score, then took the lead for good on a home run in the bottom of the sixth.

“It was probably one of the most frustrating games of the year,” Eastman said. “We killed each other. If we would have won that game, I?think we would have had a better matchup against Cypress than Delta.”

Freshman pitcher Anna Miller went the distance for the Eagles. She struck out 7, walked 2, and allowed 9 hits, but only 5 of Mt. San Antonio’s 10 runs were earned.

The Eagles started their 6 run rally in the third inning with two outs. After Faith Evenson and McKaylee Pittman both walked, Meredith Barnes singled to load the bases, and Dacia Hale singled to drive in 2. Regan Drake walked, and Miller reached on an error that allowed Hale to score. A double down the left field line by Stephanie Lascelles drove in 2.

Siskiyous took the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Amanda Krueger singled, Evenson walked, Barnes drove in a run with a double, and Drake singled to drive in 2.

Barnes had 3 of the Eagles' 8 hits and was the only Siskiyous player with more than 1 hit. She was the only Siskiyous player selected for the all-tournament team.

Delta pitcher ‘was dealing’

In Saturday’s loss to Delta, which ended after five innings because of the mercy rule, Krueger was the only Eagle to reach base. She walked with one out in the first inning and advanced to second base on a wild pitch.

Delta pitcher Katie Cotta retired every Eagle she faced after that, striking out 11 of the final 14 batters.

Cotta went into the tournament undefeated for the season, but was the losing pitcher in both games against Cypress and finished 32-2. She was one of three pitchers named to the all-tourney team, along with tournament MVP Monique Hernandez and Mia Magalona, both of Cypress.

“She was too good,”?Eastman said of Cotta. “She was dealing. It was like groundhog day for us. We’d come in to bat, three people would strike out, and we’d go back onto the field.”

Seeing the upside

The weather was perfect for softball in Bakersfield, the complex was perfect, and the Eagles were one of only four teams out of 98 that qualified to be there, Eastman said.

Several Eagle sophomores are moving on to play with full ride scholarships at four-year programs.

Pittman, Vanessa Bodily, and Amanda Krueger all received full-ride scholarships – including tuition and living expenses – to Alderson Broaddus College, a Division 2 program in West Virginia.

Hale is taking a full-ride scholarship to Louisiana Tech, a D-1 school.

Pitcher Hannah Cooke, according to Eastman, is in the process of signing with a D-2 school in Missouri.

“All the kids are out of the house with full scholarships,” Eastman said. Now Eastman and assistant coach Jim Frizzell are looking ahead, seeking a sixth straight spot in the state tournament and another chance to figure that out.

Eastman praised Frizzell for his excellent work as a coach and recruiter.

While many of this year’s stars, including Miller, are expected to return in 2012, Eastman said a talented freshman class is already shaping up. The new Eagles next year will include catcher Tori Weatherford of Mount Shasta. Eastman said he’s excited about having a local player coming in. “She’s someone who can help us,” he said of Weatherford. “She a strong-armed catcher and a great kid.”