“Our heads just weren’t in the game,” senior captain Brittany File says. “We didn’t play smart against Salinas.”
The girls started off strong with an RBI-triple by sophomore first baseman Amber Clark, but during the fifth inning their defense fell apart.
“To play smart we need to practice smart,” File says. “So our emphasis this next week is going to be on the fundamentals of the sport.”
Despite File’s 15-strikeout complete game performance, the team also lost to Soquel on Saturday.
“It was one of the toughest games we’ve had so far,” head coach Mike Odello says.
Carmel has been struggling and has lacked offense so far. Odello notes, “The girls have been hitting the ball, but not hitting it with authority.”
Despite these losses, the team shined Feb. 28 when the Padres beat Aptos in their first home non-league game.
Carmel was down by one run in the first inning, but the team made a comeback with a strong offensive inning late in the game.
The team also won 3-1 on Feb. 26 in its first preseason game, impressive given the number of changes the Padres have experienced this year.
Not only do the Padres have a brand-new coach, but 75 percent of team members are first-time varsity players. Many of last year’s starters graduated or didn’t return to the sport. There are only four eligible returning varsity players out of the 16 girls on the team.With an inexperienced team, Odello wants this year to be a growing year.
“There is lots of room to grow,” File adds. “The team has a lot of fundamentals and right now is in a good preseason place.”
The team also consists of three freshmen, including starting shortstop Lauren Salvati. According to Odello, Salvati is not only the youngest starter, but a rising star with a .286 batting average.
Junior Nicole Caoili is also a rising star with the second highest batting average (.375) on the team.
Caoili is already much happier with this season than last year’s: “The coaches this year actually know what they are doing, know of the girls’ capabilities, use it to [the team’s] advantage, as well as giving the girls opportunities.”
And the girls are prospering under Mike Odello’s lead.
“Last year it was competitive, which is good,” junior and first-time varsity player Jamie Stracuzzi says. “Coach Odello always says he just wants to see us smiling. He definitely wants to get back to the fun of the game, which is refreshing.”
File is also refreshed by the different attitude this year and claims this year is more based on having fun and taking the pressure off in a growing year.
With two strong wins under their belt, the team has high hopes for their league play.