The Warriors had to dig deep this year.
They were tested.
After losing two early league games to chief rival St. Bernard’s, there was no more room for error, but the Hoopa girls answered the challenge with the sort of veteran-like composure you would expect from the defending league champions.
And on Thursday afternoon, they capped an eight-game league winning streak with a doubleheader sweep of the Crusaders to clinch a second straight Little 4 crown.
The St. Bernard’s girls made the home team battle all the way, taking a 3-0 lead in the opener before eventually falling 6-5, and Hoopa then completed the sweep with a 5-2 win in the nightcap.
“Credit to my girls, they don’t back down, they don’t give up,” Hoopa head coach Glenn Moore said. “They were down by three and they came back.”
Anything less than a sweep would likely have seen the title go to the Crusaders, who dropped to 8-3 in league play and will close out with a single game at Ferndale on Monday.
The Warriors improved to 10-2 in the Little 4 and 13-7 overall.
Hoopa started the season slow, but began to heat up as the games got going.
Seniors Daisy Tracy and Alexia Jackson both played a major role in leading the team to 10 wins in its final 12 games of the regular season, as did freshman Savannah Colegrove, who has quickly established herself as one of the top pitchers in the league.
“She’s the complete package,” Moore said of Colegrove, who won the starting job as the season progressed. “She takes care of things on both sides of the ball. She pitches well, and she has a lot of different pitches, and she’s a smart girl. She rarely misses.”
Colegrove struck out nine in the opener and five more in game two.
And she got plenty of offensive support, with Jasmine Kinney going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in the opener, and Naschewen Hunsucker finishing 3-for-4 with an intentional walk.
Estelle Colegrove was instrumental in the win in what was a back-and-forth affair, driving in what would be the wining run on a key RBI double late in the game.
“It was a tough game,” More said. “We were down 3-0 early, but we kind of chipped away at it, one run here, one run there.”
Game two was more of a pitchers’ duel between Savannah Colegrove and St. Bernard’s ace Ally Del Grande, and low scoring until the sixth, when the home team put up four quick runs to pull away.
“We just capitalized on some errors they made,” Moore said.
Beyonce Bussell had a big game at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI, while Estelle Colegrove had a double.
Tracy also finished with a hit and a pair of RBIs, and afterwards Moore admitted he will miss his two senior leaders after this season.
The head coach described Tracy as a “rock solid center fielder,” and praised Jackson for her knowledge of the game.
“She’s got a really good game IQ,” Moore said of Jackson, who plays shortstop. “And she always wants to bring it.”
The games were played in front of a large crowd, with the Hoopa community getting behind the Warriors.
“We had a great showing from the community,” Moore said. “It was a sunny day and a beautiful day for softball.”
As champions, the Warriors will have a bye in the opening round of next week’s league tournament, and are guaranteed a home playoff game in the North Coast Sections.