By Ray Hamill — There aren’t too many teams that can bring a local community together like those at Hoopa High.
And that’s something we got to witness once again this spring, as the Warriors won an H-DNL record seventh North Coast Section championship in softball.
But that’s only half the story.
Not only did the Hoopa girls establish themselves as the most successful playoff softball team in league history, but they showed that they could have competed for a section championship two divisions up.
This season, the Division-5 Warriors defeated each of the top two seeds in the Division-4 bracket (Del Norte and McKinleyville) as well as pushing Eureka — the top-ranked NCS D-3 team and a top-five program in the entire section — all the way in their NorCal opener.
In fact, they played the high-flying Loggers closer than all but four teams in the 27 Eureka wins.
And all of that suggests they would not only have been a worthy No. 1 seed in Division 4 this year, but a contender in Division 3 as well.
That’s remarkable for a school the size of Hoopa, which has less than half the student population of the smallest Big 5 school (McKinleyville) and less than a quarter of that of Eureka.
And it’s also something that caught the attention of the local community, which showed up in big numbers to support the Hoopa girls on their memorable (and long) playoff run.
The Warriors lost just six games all season — including three times to Eureka — and four of those losses were by just one run.
They went 3-2 combined in games against McKinleyville, Del Norte and Fortuna, and even though they lost all three matchups against the Loggers they still outscored the Big 5 by a combined 27-25 in eight games.
After two successive NCS championships in Division 5, it is likely the Warriors will be moved up to Division 4 for next year’s playoffs, and with all but two players expected back that’s probably not going to be good news for the rest of the D-4 field.