With a roster that features 13 freshmen, a massive rebuilding effort is underway for the Bishop Diego softball program.
The Cardinals have played well this season when matched up against similarly inexperienced competition, but struggled to keep pace in a 16-4 loss to Malibu on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s an interesting challenge, but it’s very rewarding as well because you can see all of the improvement,” said Bishop Diego first-year coach MeLinda Matsumoto. “ “There’s a couple new players that have really excelled and taken it on and you wouldn’t know that they weren’t varsity athletes before.”
The Cardinals (5-6) only won three games last season and are not affiliated with a league this season due to a lack of competitiveness in recent years.
Returners Julia Gregson, Sydney Naour and Miranda Alvarez have taken on leadership roles and contributed to the maturation of the younger players.
“I really am having the girls with experience help mentor and teach the other girls with things like how to step out of the box and take a sign from the coach,” Matsumoto said.
Bishop Diego freshman Amy Mancinelli got the start in the circle for the second time this season and surrendered three runs on three hits in the first inning, including back-to-back doubles to lead off the game by Malibu’s Karis Hughes and Janet Ann Purtell.
Mancinelli settled in and pitched a scoreless second inning before giving way to Gregson in the third.
After Gregson retired Malibu in order in the fourth inning, Bishop Diego remained within striking distance trailing 4-0 going into the fifth inning.
However, Malibu scored 12 runs in the fifth inning as Gregson struggled with control leading to five walks and two hit batters.
“We’ve been working a lot on no cheap swings,” said Malibu coach Geoff Stern. “Until you get two strikes I don’t want to see defensive swings.”
Purtell was dominant on the mound for Malibu through four innings and had only surrendered one hit until back-to-back triples by Gregson and Mancinelli with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning cut the Cardinals’ deficit to 16-2.
Miranda Alvarez followed with an infield single that brought home Mancinelli, cutting the Bishop Diego deficit to 16-3. The next batter, Naour doubled down the left field line driving in Alvarez to make the final score 16-4.