Softball brought back to life after five years, but team struggles with mass inexperience

Adam Dean
Senior Alexa Mathisen awaits a pitch during the March 13 New Life Christian game. Mathisen later stole two bases, but the girls still lost, 0-17.

After four years in the grave, the girls’ softball team has been resurrected.

With the change in the soccer season (girls’ soccer was moved from spring to winter), athletic director Matt Vargo thought there might be enough interest to start up the team again.

“We figured we’d give it a shot,” Vargo said. “We went with it, and there was a big signup.”

The last time Country Day had a softball team was in 2012. That team was formed by Madison Galati, ‘12, in 2008, her freshman year.

The team made playoffs in their first year and finished third or fourth the following seasons, Galati said.

Nevertheless, there was a lack of interest in softball after Galati graduated, so the sport was cut, Vargo said. Now it’s back, and he’s happy it is.

“That means there is something positive about soccer being moved to the winter,” Vargo said.

With the addition of Country Day, the softball league now has seven teams: Leroy Greene Academy, New Life Christian School, Valley Christian Academy, Western Sierra Collegiate Academy, Buckingham Charter Magnet High School and Sacramento Adventist Academy.

And Galati’s father Scott, former coach, has returned to coach the new team.

“We have a lot of athleticism and enthusiasm,” Scott said. “I think my experience with the previous (Country Day) team will translate to this one.”

That’s because Galati sees some similarities between the two.

“The team is very similar to my daughter’s in that most of the players are inexperienced,” Galati said.

“(Freshman) Naomi (Turnbull) is a lot like my daughter in that she has club softball experience, and then the rest of the team has relatively no experience playing the sport.”

In fact, of the 11 players, Turnbull is the only one with previous experience.

“I’ve been playing competitive softball for about four years,” Turnbull said. “On my team outside of school, I play second base, but here I have to pitch.”

Adam Dean
Coach Scott Galati, who last coached SCDS softball in 2012, gives the girls defensive advice during a timeout at the March 13 New Life Christian game. Galati’s daughter Madison, ‘12, formed the former team in 2008 when she was a freshman. The team has lost its first three games.

Galati’s encouragement has rubbed off on his players, particularly senior Alexa Mathisen.

“I think it’ll be a good and fun learning experience,” Mathisen said. “I’ve always wanted to play, so I think it’s nice that I have a chance to learn the basics, which is an opportunity you wouldn’t get at other high schools.”

However, the excitement and enthusiasm hasn’t yet translated to success on the field.

In their first game, the team was obliterated, 2-19, by the Leroy Greene Academy Lions.

According to Mathisen, inexperience was the primary reason for the loss.

“I think our instincts were good, and we didn’t let balls go over our head,” Mathisen said. “But we just had first-game jitters, like we didn’t know where to throw to get people out.

“Also, Naomi is the only one who really knows how to pitch, so that puts us at a disadvantage.”

Mathisen said going forward the team needs to work hard and practice. Practicing has been difficult since the softball season now coincides with the baseball season, so they can’t always practice on the backfield.

The team practices at Arden Park if the backfield is occupied after school.

Galati wants the girls to come away feeling strong and good about themselves.

“I want every one of those girls to feel empowered,” Galati said. “I want to make sure they feel that they can hit as hard as anybody else and throw as far as anybody else and have fun.”

Although their first game was anything but fun, Mathisen thinks the team can improve.

“Up to this point, we’ve really only practiced hitting and throwing to each other,” Mathisen said. “We are going to start working on more team skills and game situations.”

By Bryce Longoria

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