The Patterson team is locked and loaded heading into this weekend’s NorCal Softball Classic in Tracy, sitting comfortably atop the Western Athletic Conference with a perfect 8-0 record.
In fact, Patterson (11-3 overall) hasn’t tasted defeat since March 7, a 3-0 nonleague loss to Franklin of Elk Grove at the Ceres Bulldog Classic in Modesto.
Still, coach Dave Klein knows that the caliber of teams in Tracy will once again challenge the Tigers’ lineup.
“There are a few teams (in Tracy) that could potentially give us some trouble,” Klein said. “We are going to have to go in there prepared to play and know that in a tournament like this, any win is going to have to be earned.”
After the tournament, the Tigers play a home-and-home series with pesky Gustine (3-6-1 overall, 2-6 WAC), which challenged Patterson earlier this season before falling 2-0 on March 20.
Patterson ends the regular season with a two-game series against Livingston (5-10, 1-6) and an important two-game set with second-place Hilmar (15-1, 8-1).
“We are going to see the best from every team down the stretch,” Klein said. “We can’t afford to take any team lightly, and we just need to stay focused on what our goals have been all season long.”
Patterson’s offense has pummeled WAC opponents this year, outscoring the opposition by a staggering 61-6. But just as important is the Tigers’ veteran pitching staff.
Seniors Mandy Sifuentes and Kayla Souza, having played softball since grade school as teammates and rivals, are prepared to make one last run together.
And it’s no secret that Sifuentes and Souza will be counted upon to lead the Tigers to a strong finish and into the postseason.
“Our starting pitching has been dominating, for the most part,” Klein said. “Both girls have come through for us all season.
“When we get good games out of them, it makes everyone else’s job a little easier.”
Sifuentes has racked up nine wins and 106 strikeouts this season. Her miniscule 0.70 earned-run average is tops in the WAC.
Souza has also performed well as a solid No. 2 option for Patterson, collecting five wins and 33 strikeouts.
Factor in four of the league’s top five batting leaders — Kianna Weinzheimer (.550), Melissa Robles (.415), Rebecca Hinojos (.412) and Samantha Kramer (.405) — and Patterson should be considered a frontrunner to capture a WAC title.
“We like the way that the league is shaping out for us,” Klein said. “But there are still plenty of games left on the schedule, and anything can happen if you lose focus on what you set out to do.
“It’s up to us to determine how far we can go this year.”