Young Crusaders eager to compete for Little 4


Ray Hamill/ – Senior pitcher Ally Del Grande is back to lead the Crusaders this season.

By Ray Hamill — With just three seniors and a pair of juniors on hand, the St. Bernard’s Crusaders will feature a young lineup in softball this spring.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t be competitive.

“We’re young,” head coach Alan Borges said. “We have three seniors and a lot of kids with very little experience, but these kids are working hard and I think we’ll be fine.”

Ally Del Grande will provide some leadership and power in the pitcher’s circle in her final high school season.

“It’s up to her,” the head coach said. “I think she wants to put in the work and have some fun and go out on a high note.”

Another senior, Calissa Stokesberry, will provide an experienced bat and some pitching depth, and has been a pleasant surprise in the circle after taking up the pitching duties this season.

“She throws strikes and she’s working hard,” Borges said. “I probably should have had her pitching a couple of years ago.”

Junior Mackenzie Finck will also play a pivotal role this season, splitting time behind the plate and in the outfield.

Borges is hoping the talented Finck can give the Crusaders more of a presence in the outfield, while mentoring sophomore catcher Lindsey Davila-Escareno, who will also see time behind the plate.

“She’s doing well,” Borges said of Davila-Escareno. “She’s got a lot to learn back there, but she catches the ball well and she’s got a good arm.”

A third senior, Alyssa Liles, returns to the team and will play in the outfield and provide some versatility.

Likewise with junior Rachel Rodriques, who will see time across the infield, while big things are expected out of talented freshman Emma Wilson.

“She’s going to really help us out a lot,” Borges said of Wilson, who is also expected to provide plenty of versatility. “She can play all the infield, and I can put her in the outfield, and she’s a pretty strong hitter.”

Sophomore Kara Waterman will play second base and in the outfield, and is, according to her coach, “coming along really good.”

“She has played for a while, and she’s getting stronger every year,” he said.

Freshman Courtney Goodman will also see plenty of time in the outfield.

“She throws the ball pretty well and she catches the ball really well in the outfield,” Borges said. “She tracks it well.”

With three scrimmages under their collective belts, the young Crusaders will get their first official games in this weekend at the McKinleyville tournament.

“The rest of our kids are mostly freshmen,” Borges said. “A couple of the kids are going to have to do quite a bit of work because they haven’t played before, but they’re willing to do that.”

The Crusaders will play McKinleyville, Trinity and Lower Lake at the two-day tournament.

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