Friday, April 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

DHS softball in section battle of biblical proportions

DHS' Sarah Allen-Sutter delivers a pitch in a game earlier this season. The Blue Devils host Roseville Tuesday in a Sac-Joaquin Section out-bracket matchup. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise file photo

The Davis High softball team is headed for another story akin to the tale of David vs. Goliath, with the locals trying to win despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

The giant that’s dwarfing the Blue Devils? Roseville, which will stomp into DHS field for a Sac-Joaquin Section out-bracket game Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The Devils finished 16-9-1 overall this regular season, and went 8-2 in Delta Valley Conference play to earn the league’s second seed in the SJS Division I Tournament. Davis won two playoff games in the 2012 event, which was all double-elimination.

This year’s tourney has been altered, with eight teams added to the bracket. The section playoffs now feature 24 squads and the out-bracket games — like DHS against Roseville — are win-or-go-home contests.

“It’s going to be very interesting this year, and definitely a little bit harder,” said Blue Devil head coach Art Guerra, thinking specifically of the Tigers, who sport a 19-7-1 overall record. ”It’s one of those David versus Goliath situations, but I have all the confidence in our kids.”

Roseville finished 11-4 in the Sierra Foothill League, which Guerra described as the premier softball conference in the Sacramento region. Four of the SFL squads are among the top 16 in the area.

“Roseville placed third in their league,” Guerra added. “But just to show you how tough that league is, they’re also the No. 3 ranked team in our section.”

Meanwhile, DHS finished second in its league after falling to Elk Grove in the final game on the DVC schedule. Besting the Tigers will require fixing what went wrong in that 11-1 loss to the Thundering Herd on Wednesday.

“We can’t make a lot of mistakes, and if we do, we’re going to have to keep them to a minimum,” Guerra said. “That was proven against Elk Grove. We made mistakes at real critical times, with runners on base.”

But the Devils hope to return to the type of softball that had them winning eight consecutive games prior to Wednesday’s misstep. Doing that might just give Davis what it needs to stun Roseville.

“They’re not Superman, or Superwoman,” Guerra said. “It’s in our hands to prove we belong, and it’s what we want. If the team that shows up is the one that played down the stretch and in the middle of season, we have a good chance.”

The young Blue Devils will have to match the composure of the Tigers and their senior-dominated roster. RHS features a cast of players that has been in each of the past three D-II section championship games.

“Their kids have been there, where our kids haven’t,” Guerra said. “They’ve been in the playoff situation before, and they’ve know how to deal with the pressure.”

The Blue Devils, however, do have three seniors — Stephanie Cello, Sydney Rosenblum and Tarah Kalinen — in the infield, who will play behind pitchers Madi Benner and Sarah Allen-Sutter.

Given that both DHS hurler are sophomores, Roseville has the experience advantage in the circle with a pair of seniors to call upon in Delany DeMello and Kayla Fields.

But the Tigers’ pitching rotation, as veteran as they may be, will be throwing to dauntless Blue Devil batters.

“The way we’re hitting right now, we’re going to go up there and take our cuts, I’ll tell you that,” Guerra said. “We’re not going to be afraid; we’re going to act like Babe Ruth at the plate.”

The winner of Tuesday’s contest advances to the double-elimination portion of the tournament, which begins Saturday at the Sacramento Softball Complex.

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

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