Senior-heavy Crusaders appear ready to challenge in the L4 

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Torrin Baty delivers a pitch against McKinleyville on Saturday.

By Ray Hamill — With a core group of talented senior leaders and a balanced lineup, the St. Bernard’s Crusaders appear well capable of challenging the rest of the Little 4 for the league championship in softball this spring.

The only question right now is whether they can put it all together on the field.

On Saturday, the Crusaders fell 9-0 at McKinleyville, suffering their second loss to a Big 5 opponent this week.

But head coach Anthony Ford isn’t using any excuses and believes his players have the talent to compete with the larger schools.

“They’re good kids and they’re a pleasure to coach, but I would like to see them believe in themselves a little bit more,” he said. “I feel like they can accomplish what they set out to accomplish.

“They’re an athletic group and I look forward to coaching them every day.”

With eight seniors on the roster, Johnson and his assistant coaches have some experience to help set the tone this year, most notably team captains Marce Davila, Ella Jimenez and Kodi Meyer.

Davila and Meyer both impressed defensively on Saturday at third base and shortstop, respectively, while fellow senior Torrin Baty looked solid in the circle, as the Crusaders avoided any big innings against the defending North Coast Section champions.

“We showed some flashes, so I’m optimistic with what I see,” Ford said.

Baty is one of two strong pitchers on the roster, along with Jimenez, and she impressed in the loss, never getting rattled and not allowing any big innings.

“I thought Torrin Baty pitched well enough to win,” the head coach said. “She hit her spots a little bit better, and if we could get the bat on the ball a little better she has a chance to win that game.”

Baty and Jimenez each also had a base hit, as did fellow senior Allyson Hagler and speedy freshman Sahara Tupua.

Tupua is one of multiple players who will bring some speed to the bases.

“We’ve got some speed, we’ve just got to get them on,” Ford said.

Adriana Granados, Mataya Sherman and Sierra Mendoza round out the senior class, with the latter giving the coaches some additional depth in the circle.

“We feel we have some options (in the circle),” the head coach said.

Junior Hannah Finck returns behind the plate and the Crusaders should also benefit from her experience there, while fellow juniors Kiara McGinnis, Aubree Saunderson and Arabella Maki will also be expected to play a key role this spring.

Next up, the Crusaders are scheduled to play at Del Norte on Wednesday.

For more on McKinleyville, see Panthers win their opener as they get set for a new challenge …

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