by Jake Knoeller
Originally printed May 5, 2023
Spring break was an eventful one for the Cal Poly Humboldt softball team. After winning a non-conference series 3-1 at home against Central Washington University, they then hosted Dominican University of California in a non-conference doubleheader on Wednesday, winning 5-0 and 8-0.
This led them into the important conference series this past weekend at home against San Francisco State. It didn’t get off to a good start for Humboldt as they lost both games by one run on Friday.
“I think everyone knew we should have beaten that team the first two games,” said pitcher Alyssa Smokey.
There was undoubtedly a different energy in the air on Saturday afternoon, as the Lumberjacks knew the pressure was on them to redeem themselves.
“I think everyone’s energy changed the morning we walked in, everyone was more focused,” said Smokey.
The Jacks came out much stronger, putting on a show and winning 9-3 and 11-1 to split the season series.
In the first game, Shelby Shanks had two runs and two hits, while Katlyn Gifford had two hits and two RBI. Smokey led Humboldt’s hitting with three hits and took home the pitching win. In the second game, Shanks and Gifford had three RBI each, Micaela Harris scored three runs, and Ciera Pyle had three runs and two hits. Gaige Garcia took home the pitching win.
“The senior leadership definitely had an impact on us winning because after the games on Friday, our seniors kind of talked to us,” said catcher and outfielder Julia Rivera. “They focused on the positives of it rather than the negatives, which I think is a big thing with our team.”
Rivera also mentioned how the team played to have fun on Saturday rather than to win, and this helped them play their game the unique Humboldt way.
“If you can trust your teammates off the field, then your relationship on the field is gonna be totally magnified in a way,” said Rivera. “Compared to the rest of the CCAA, we’re different in a good way.”
The team’s resilience they have shown as of late is something that has been built in and taught by their coaches.
“This year has thrown us a lot of curveballs,” said head coach Shelli Sarchett. “We talk about it often as taking those curveballs and making them your pitch.”
Smokey was named CCAA player of the week on Tuesday after an impressive statline over the last few games.
“It’s an honor, like there’s a lot of good girls out there and I’ve played against some of the best,” said Smokey. “I couldn’t have done it without the rest of my team.”
Sarchett mentioned Smokey’s continuing high effort in practice as a factor in her recent performances.
“She’s been really pushing herself and it’s starting to come into fruition for her and for us,” said Sarchett.
A series away from home against Sonoma State, the team ranked first in the conference, approaches for the Lumberjacks on Friday and Saturday at Seawolf Softball Field in Rohnert Park. Humboldt plays Friday at 1 P.M. and 3 P.M. and Saturday at 12 P.M. and 2 P.M..
“I think Sonoma isn’t gonna really know what’s coming in because we’ve worked hard to get to where we are now,” said Rivera. “Sonoma’s gonna be good competition but it’s also gonna be a learning experience for us to pick up on how the top teams play and how we can mimic them in certain ways.”
Humboldt is currently ranked eighth out of ten after having to play some very tough teams in the conference so far, and they are looked at as the underdog in this game. However, this gives them a nothing-to-lose mentality that can take teams a long way.
“When you play with that mindset, it really encourages you to have fun,” said Rivera.