For seven seniors, their time playing Sonoma State softball has come to an end. The Sonoma State University softball team finished their season after being eliminated from the NCAA Division II WestRegional Tournament in Arcata on Friday.
Much like the CCAA Softball Championships a week prior, the Seawolves found themselves playing the Humboldt Lumberjacks and the Chico State Wildcats once again. The Seawolves started off the tournament against fifth-ranked Humboldt State, but weren’t thrilled about it.
“Every year it seems like we end up playing Humboldt at least five to seven times,” said junior Jena Kaser. “When we saw that we were playing them at the selection show, we were all pretty bitter about it. I think we just wanted to play someone new.”
Just a week before, the Seawolves beat Humbolt 4-2, handing them only their fifth loss of the season. This time Humbolt started strong, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning against the Seawolves’ starting pitcher Amanda Llerena.
“We went in there like underdogs,” said Llerena. “They are a great team and it takes our entire focus, energy and heart to conquer that team.”
Llerena expected the Lumberjacks to be tough competition, but not one to stop the Seawolf momentum.
“Humboldt is a good hitting team and they were playing at home, so they were comfortable in their own skin,” said Kaser. “We have a very young team and post-season can bring out nerves and anxiety. As a team they have many strengths, but so do we, which is what kept us motivated the rest of the game even after they put up three runs.”
Unfortunately for the Seawolves, those three runs were enough to defeat them. The Lumberjacks added two more in the fourth to finish the Seawolves 5-1. Kristine Ricossa’s RBI double that brought home Mayleen Mazon was the only offensive action for the Seawolves. They were held to only three hits in the game.
The loss against Humboldt meant the Seawolves had to win four straight elimination games to advance to Super Regionals, but the Wildcats would be the ones to eliminate them again. Chico State sent the Seawolves home unhappy just a week earlier with a 6-4 win in the CCAA tournament. They would eliminate the Seawolves once again, winning 9-4 to end their season.
“I think the pressure of it being an elimination game played a factor, but we had nothing to lose and everything to gain from winning in the elimination game on Friday,” said Kaser. “I think we knew what was at stake and were eager to avoid the route that would end our season.”
Despite a strong effort in the first, plating three runs almost immediately, the Seawolves couldn’t hold on to their lead. Chico State tied things up in the third, but Alison Strycula answered back with a single through the left side making it 4-3. Unfortunately, that would end up being the last run of the Seawolves’ season.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Wildcats took off on the Seawolves, scoring six runs all with two outs, eliminating them from the tournament.
The Seawolves said goodbye to seven seniors: Amanda Llerena, Jena Kaser, Ally Bryant, Mayleen Mazon, Olivia Lucchese, Aubrie Tolliver, and Carlie Daniel.
It was a bitter day for those that played their last game as a Seawolf, but it seems that most left learning something about themselves. “Sonoma State Softball taught me how to be a team player, have commitment, passion, dedication, hard work and never having any limits for yourself,” said Llerena. “I will remember my time here because of the teammates I met that changed my life and coaches that showed me new perspectives.”
The Seawolves finished their season with a 33-24-1 record.
“As a team we had ups and downs, but I will cherish this season for the accomplishments we earned together,” said Kaser. “No other team works as hard as us in the weight room, track, field or in the classroom. Despite the season being over I will always be proud of my teammates for putting in the hard work that they did for the team’s future.”