After winning its first Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division title and reaching the Central Coast Section playoffs for the first time last season, the San Mateo High School softball team is hungry to repeat its success.
“They were pretty excited about it,” coach Randy Boardman said of his Bearcats reaching the CCS playoffs for the first time in school history. “They are hoping to do the same thing this year.”
San Mateo finished in a three-way tie atop the Ocean Division last season with Sequoia and Woodside, but earned enough CCS points to claim the automatic bid given to the Ocean.
San Mateo used the momentum and experience of last season to jump out to an early 4-0 record in league, which includes back-to-back wins over Sequoia and Woodside three weeks ago.
“Knowing they are right with Sequoia and Woodside has done a lot for their confidence,” Boardman said of his team. “I’m very proud of them.”
Despite defeating their top competition once, the Bearcats are not overlooking their rematches with both teams this week.
“Sequoia and Woodside are still very, very strong,” Boardman said.
Woodside is trailing by a half-game at 4-1 in league play, while Sequoia is sitting in third place at 3-2.
The Bearcats brought back most of last year’s team, including PAL Ocean Player of the Year Bailey Sutton, and that has raised expectations.
“Now they have a taste of [the CCS playoffs] and want to go [back],” Boardman said.
Entering Monday, Sutton carried a 0.54 ERA while striking out 53 batters in 39 innings. She also leads the team with a .611 batting average and a 1.580 on-base plus slugging.
Along with Sutton, the Bearcats brought back their entire infield from last season.
First baseman Megan Hughes has been huge for San Mateo with her .333 batting average, with a home run and nine runs batted in thus far.
Junior second baseman Tayler Titus’ .357 average is fourth on the team, and catcher Francie Cohen’s presence behind the plate has stabilized the Bearcats’ pitching and defense, which only allowed 20 runs through its first 11 games.
Designated hitter Jennifer Gomez has also stepped up big for San Mateo.
The Bearcats’ pitching and defense has been strong, but their hitting has been “sporadic” all season according to Boardman.
Going into this past week, San Mateo had scored four or fewer runs in five of its 11 games.
“We’ve been working a lot [on situational hitting] in practice,” Boardman said.
San Mateo has six league games left before the start of the CCS playoffs, which begin May 18.
The Bearcats were eliminated in the first round of the 2010 CCS Division II playoffs after falling to Mount Pleasant 3-0.