The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
The College of San Mateo softball team opened its home schedule Thursday against an under-manned Napa squad.
It showed as the Bulldogs cruised to a 10-2 win, a game that was called because of the eight-run mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth on a Michele Pilster RBI sacrifice fly.
The win runs CSM’s record to 2-0 on the young season. Although happy to get the win, Bulldogs coach Nicole Borg was not entirely thrilled with the performance.
“I don’t think we played to the best of our ability,” Borg said. “A win’s a win. … We did a lot of things well, but we had some poor swings.”
With only four sophomores, most of the Bulldogs are still getting used to playing at the collegiate level. That means bringing your “A” game more often than not. Borg admitted she thought her team might have played to the level of Napa.
“Once you see you’re facing a lesser opponent, (sometimes) you play down to their level,” Borg said.
Pitcher Amelia Shales was making her first college start in the circle and threw well enough to earn the win. As could be expected, Shales did some things well, but also needs to be sharper. She pitched five innings of one-run ball, striking out seven — but also walking three and throwing 81 pitches.
“She did a lot of good things,” Borg said.
Specifically, Shales got ahead of hitters early, throwing first-pitch strikes to the first nine batters she faced through three innings. But she then had a hard time finishing off batters, working too carefully and throwing more balls than necessary.
“She was as efficient as she could have been,” Borg said. “There’s 38 games left. Why throw more pitches than you have to?”
Shales ran into trouble in the fourth when Napa scratched across a run on three hits, but those were the only hits she allowed.
She was given a lot of leeway thanks to the Bulldogs’ offense, which scored four runs in the bottom of the first on three hits. Jamie Navarro led off the game with a single on the first pitch she saw and went to second when the left fielder bobbled it. She came around to score on an Annabel Hertz double to the fence in left. She advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a Napa wild pitch.
Mikayla Conlin followed with a walk to bring up first baseman Vika Kafoa. After taking a first-pitch ball, she jumped on a waist-high fastball and smoked it over the centerfield fence for a two-run homer. It was one of the best swings of Kafoa’s collegiate career.
“It was nice to see,” Borg said. “It was good to have that confidence booster (for her).”
CSM was shut down in the second but tacked on two more runs in the third on two hits and some wildness from the Napa pitcher. Both Conlin and Selina Rodriguez ended up scoring on a passed ball and wild pitch, respectively.
In the fourth, the Bulldogs added three more runs. Navarro drove home Kristin Petrini, who had had a one-out double. The other two runs resembled the runs they scored in third: both Navarro and Hertz ended up scoring on wild pitches to give CSM a 9-1 lead.
Napa extended the game in the top of the fifth when the Storm pushed across a run against reliever Ashley Miller, but the Bulldogs ended the game in the bottom of the frame. Kafoa reached base on a two-base error, went to third on a passed ball and scored on Pilster’s flyout to right.
In all, CSM scored 10 runs on seven hits.
“It’s nice to be able to make mistakes and still come out with the win,” Borg said.