Hawks softball open Big 8 play with first shutout victory

After getting rained out their first two conference games, the Hawks softball team finally played their home opener on Saturday against Sacramento City College.

Because the Sac City field was muddy, the game was moved to Cosumnes River College a day ahead of schedule. But it ended up working out in the Hawks’ favor, with their first conference game a shutout, 8-0.

“I think everybody was kind of chomping at the bit to play,” said Head Coach Kristy Schroeder. “I was happy with the way we played defense and how we hit when we needed to. It was a great way to start the conference.”

With strong pitching from freshman pitcher Brittany Baroni, the game wrapped up quickly without the Panthers scoring any runs.

“I was nervous at first [playing my first conference game], but I kind of got over it,” Baroni said. I mean, I was way more nervous in the very beginning of the year, but now that I got a couple games under my belt, I’m good.”

The Hawks got on the board in the bottom of the second inning.

After two outs, freshman utility player Baylee Hirtel hit a triple which allowed sophomore left fielder Lindsay Lambert to score the first run of the game. From there the Hawks continued to rack up runs in the bottom of the second.

Freshman second baseman Veronica Smith reached first base on an error by the Panthers’ short stop and Hirtel scored.

Sophomore first baseman Makenna Noya singled, allowing freshman right-fielder Cecilia Rivera to score and freshman shortstop/second baseman Miranda Rodriguez to advance to second base. An error by the Panthers allowed Rodriguez to score, putting the Hawks at a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the second.

“It felt good [hitting a triple], considering I was the designated hitter,” said Hirtel. “Sometimes it’s hard to start out just from coming out of the dugout so I felt good about it. Honestly, I didn’t even look at it. I just ran. I just wanted to get as far as I could.”

“I was thinking that if it was my pitch that I was gonna rope it and then pick up the team by having good attitude at bat,” said Hirtel after hitting her triple.

The Hawks scored three more runs in the bottom of the fourth on a ground ball, error, and sacrifice fly. By the end of the fourth inning Hawks led 8-0.

Without any runs from the Panthers, the game ended at the top of the fifth.

The Hawks players said they are excited for the rest of their season.

“The team clicks really well so it’s just a lot of fun being out here,” Baroni said.

“They always come up and talk to me, outfield is always saying my name. They’re always just giving me words of advice, coming up to the mound, so it’s nice.”

Hirtel said she wants to keep working hard at practice. She recognized the importance of having a good attitude.

“The team always picks everyone up. They’re a good solid team, and I’m happy to be playing with them. And I just look forward to kicking some butt and playing as hard as we can,” said Hirtel. “It’s gonna be a fun season.”