By Brett Andersen
Following a disappointing blowout loss to El Camino on Tuesday, Davis High softball coach Art Guerra was eager to see how his team would respond against a strong Del Campo squad a day later. Although Wednesday’s contest ended with a tough 5-4 loss, Guerra praised his Blue Devils for bouncing back with a terrific performance.
“The kids played very, very well (Wednesday). They showed their true character,” Guerra said after DHS’ third game in three days. “I guess that’s why we call ourselves Blue Devils.”
Davis (4-7) battled back from an early 4-0 deficit, and mounted one final comeback attempt in the bottom of the seventh. The Devils entered the inning trailing 5-2, but scored two runs when senior Danielle Styers doubled to left-center to score Olivia Schmidt and Catherine Slabaugh.
The Cougars, however, escaped with the win when pitcher Erin Powers struck out senior Kaitlyn Lagattuta to end the game.
DHS’ veteran leadership was evident in the bounce-back performance as key contributions came from upperclassman Rachel Mobley, Emily Ginn and Ashley Dufrense. Ginn contributed a key, energizing RBI triple in the sixth as part of a Blue Devil rally, and spoke afterward about the importance of the team getting back to the field following a tough loss.
“We have improved a lot with our leadership skills through these games, because we’ve learned to communicate,” said Ginn, who also mentioned the importance of each senior helping to teach the younger players and the pick each other up, especially following tough games.
Mobley used her arm to lead, coming in with one out in the second inning and Davis in that early 4-0 hole. Mobley got her squad out of the second without any more damage, and navigated through a few more tough situations in her final five innings of work. The junior allowed only one run while striking out three.
Guerra called it one of her best performances to date, but the Devil skipper couldn’t help but shift some attention to his defense, which came up with a few big plays of its own, especially in the fourth inning.
In that frame, Mobley found herself in trouble after allowing the first three Cougars (7-2) to reach base. Del Campo third baseman Kate Larsen then stepped up with a chance to break the game open, but DHS right fielder Schmidt had other ideas.
After securing a fly ball off the bat of Larsen for the first out, Schmidt made a perfect throw to Dufresne behind the plate to get a runner trying to tag and score.
“That’s sort of her forte,” said Guerra of Schdmidt’s tremendous defensive play. “I see her do it all the time. It got us out of a huge jam.”
Dufrense added a defensive gem of her own moments later, picking Cougar runner Maggie West off at third for the final out of the inning.
After Del Campo starter Brooke Larsen had held them without a hit through the first three frames, the great defense fired up the Blue Devils, and they put Larsen to work in the bottom of the fourth.
First it was Ginn, who fought through a 10-pitch at-bat that ultimately ended with a groundout. However, the lengthy battle allowed Ginn to see everything Larsen had to offer. On her way back to the dugout, Ginn stopped Dufresne on the way to the plate to share what she had learned.
“I told her to watch first pitch strike,” said Ginn, who added that the Devils often let each other know how they were pitched through an at-bat.
Moments later, Dufrense took Ginn’s advice, smacking a first-pitch fastball off the left-field foul pole. The solo shot cut the lead to 4-1.
“It just shows they have each other’s back, and they rally and trust each other,” Guerra said of the information sharing. “They’re letting kids know what pitches are coming and where the pitches are thrown.”
The Blue Devils will have their first off day of the week on Thursday and, following what Guerra anticipates will be a light practice, take the field again for a Friday home contest against Pleasant Grove. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.