“The girls are starting to gel,” Hamm said. “We are working on the mental part of the game. We have a tendency to not know what to do with the ball (on defense) before it’s pitched, and that is something we really need to tighten up.”
Patterson lost a pair of home games on Feb. 26 and 27 to Downey High of Modesto, 6-5, and Modesto High, 5-0, before losing on the road Friday, March 1, to Weston Ranch High of Stockton, 4-1.
Hamm acknowledged that the Tigers (0-4) have some work to do but said the rough stretch doesn’t mean the team needs dramatic improvement.
”We also have a tendency to give up too many outs, which ends up costing us,” Hamm said. “We are still figuring out a lineup that works.”
Sophomore Courtney Palla led Patterson against Weston Ranch with a pair of hits and a stolen base.
“Defensively, we’re starting to look good,” Hamm said. “(Senior shortstop) Francheska Olvera did a terrific job taking care of her position. (Sophomore pitcher) Lucero Vargas did a great job inside the circle, with (sophomore) Kianna Garza catching.”
Against Downey, Patterson gave up a three-run lead in the fifth inning on the way to defeat.
The Tigers led 2-0 after one inning, as Leanna Lindsey walked and scored on an RBI triple by her sister, fellow sophomore Keana Lindsey, and senior Brianna Palafox hit a run-scoring single to center field.
Olvera led off the bottom of the third with a walk, stole second and scored on Garza’s double to the wall in center field, making it a 3-0 game.
Junior pitcher Sadie Schut cruised through four innings, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out four, but she ran into trouble in the fifth.
That’s when Downey pounded out five runs on four hits — with the help of three Patterson errors — and went ahead 5-3.
Garza led off the bottom of the fifth with another double and scored on Vargas’ RBI two-bagger to bring Patterson within one run. Vargas then moved up to third on a groundout and crossed home plate on an uncaught third strike to tie Downey 5-5.
After retiring the first batter she faced, reliever Bailey Boschi loaded the bases in the top of the sixth on three straight walks.
Boschi, a sophomore, struck out Haley Robison and almost escaped the jam. But Ashley Bonham broke the tie with an RBI single for Downey that provided the final margin of victory.
The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth but could not capitalize on the opportunity.
“We have a lot of girls who are eager to get better, and are working extremely hard,” Hamm said.
She said a tough preseason schedule will help the Tigers prepare for Western Athletic Conference play.
“We are seeing quality teams that I believe will get us where we need to be by the league season,” Hamm said. “It’s up to the girls to make it happen, as we coaches guide them on this journey.”
Patterson continues the nonleague season Thursday, March 7, at the Ceres Bulldog Classic at Rainbow Fields in Modesto.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.