Coming in for yet another duel with the nine-time defending Desert Valley League champs, Palm Springs softball coach Deb Cormier was confident.
Yes, in her 10 years in the dugout with the Indians, her Palm Springs squad had come off the diamond victorious just once against La Quinta.
And as Blackhawk, senior Mia Olvera sent a full count pitch soaring over dead center field with two outs in the top of the first (typical Indians teams of years’ past may have checked out).
But this group made up of seven seniors that lost only one starter from a year ago is more mature than that, Cormier said. Just as they didn’t let that early run phase them, the Indians won’t get too high-and-mighty after Tuesday’s home 7-4 defeat of La Quinta to boost them into first place, alone, in the league.
The Indians won’t be talking about that, though. Midway through Tuesday’s action, Cormier overhead one of her players talk of a potential DVL title before a teammate quickly reminded her of the slogan for this season.
“One game at a time, that’s our motto,” Cormier said. “In the past we’ve worried about who we’re playing and what’s going on. Now, we’re focused on us, what we’re doing up to bat. Focused on defense, and if we make mistakes – let’s not make another one behind it.”
After Olvera’s solo homer, Palm Springs pitcher Makayla August forced a groundout, and almost immediately, the Indians got momentum rolling on the base paths. Capitalizing off two-straight errors from La Quinta’s Havanna Zanesco fielding groundballs, the Indians filled the bases with a walk before another four balls from La Quinta pitcher Mariah Estrada allowed Raquel Harris to walk in to tie the score at one-apiece.
With the bases still loaded, Sylena Black made contact and was thrown out at first, but not before Davia Hines and August crossed the plate for a 3-1 lead.
In the next inning, the Indians put their bats to work with two outs, as Harris and Hines strung together back-to-back doubles, eventually scoring Valerie Rosete and Harris.
August’s solid pitching performance continued as she exuded the confidence that Cormier said fuels the rest of her teammates. Statistically, it wasn’t an overpowering outing, allowing nine hits and four runs with four strikeouts, but her coach was impressed that she never got rattled, holding onto a large lead against a strong team with plenty of big bats in the order.
Even when the Indians gave up back-to-back singles, including a one off a bunt from Ilana Valdez, before Kiara Mendoza knocked a two RBI double to right before Kamryn Tiumalu’s solo homer in the top of the seventh, August’s demeanor never wavered, and that’s a sign of a much-matured group, Cormier said.
“Last year, they didn’t believe in themselves. They didn’t realize how good they could be,” she said. “Now I think they’re starting to realize that if they take care of each other, they can do a lot.”
Will “a lot” mean a DVL title? Wondering about it would go against her team’s motto, Cormier said.
“But if that happens, great,” she added, with a smile.