The Del Norte Warriors came up just short in their bid for an NCS championship showdown with Big 5 rivals McKinleyville, falling 3-2 to Fort Bragg in Crescent City in Wednesday’s Division-4 softball semifinals.
A year from now, however, a young Warriors team could very well look back on this playoff run as a crucial step in their development and should benefit from the experience of an impressive playoff run that saw them win two games by a combined score of 26-0 in the opening two rounds.
“Oh my gosh, it was such a great season,” head coach Jackie Heuberger said. “It’s hard to be happy after a loss like that, but with almost all of them being sophomores and freshmen, they have so much to look forward to.”
Wednesday’s loss was a tough one to take.
The Warriors led 2-0 after four innings, but errors and mistakes led to three runs for the visitors in the top of the sixth and the Del Norte bats were unable to answer late.
“It was such a tough loss,” the head coach said. “It was a battle. (Pitcher) McKenna (Curtis) was doing an amazing job pitching, and unfortunately we just made some mistakes.”
Hailey Harrison gave the home team a one-run lead in the third, walking to reach base and scoring on a Josephine Heuberger double.
An inning later, Reece White made it 2-0 when she scored on an Alexis Heuberger double.
That, however, was all the offense the home team could muster.
“We just really struggled hitting off their pitcher,” Jackie Heuberger said.
The Warriors, who close out the season 17-10, will graduate just one senior — Josephine Heuberger — with the rest of the roster expected back in 2023, including the impressive all-sophomore battery of Curtis and Alexis Heuberger.
“I think they’re going to be amazing to watch next year,” the head coach said.