The Del Norte Warriors became the second Big 5 team to reach the North Coast Section Division-4 softball semifinals on Saturday after shutting out St. Patrick-St. Vincent 12-0 in five innings in Crescent City.
The No. 2 seeded Del Norte girls were playing their first playoff game after receiving an opening-round bye and they picked up pretty much where they left off after an outstanding regular season that included a Big 5 championship.
The hard-hitting Warriors got big contributions from throughout the entire lineup, as well as another dominating performance in the circle from sophomore Shay Nolan.
“We played awesome,” head coach Jackie Heuberger said. “We hit the ball really well, the entire lineup hit the ball well, and Shay Nolan shut down their offense and didn’t allow anybody to score.”
Nolan also got plenty of help from a Del Norte defense that has impressed all year long.
According to the coach, this year’s team has turned more double plays than she has ever seen in her years coaching, and it’s a unit that works well with Nolan.
“She is 100 percent confident that they’re going to make the play,” Heuberger said. “They all really have a lot of confidence in each other, and they all work hard for each other.”
The busy Nolan has thrown the vast majority of innings for the Warriors this year and has quickly established herself as one of the top pitchers in the H-DN.
“The greatest thing about Shay is she’s a perfectionist,” the head coach said. “She wants to do well and she wants to beat everybody. And she works hard and does what she needs to do.”
The Del Norte girls broke open Saturday’s game with eight runs in the bottom of the fourth, with 12 players coming to bat in the inning.
Alexis Heuberger and Lauren Stutes each finished 2-for-3 in the win.
“Both of them hit the ball really hard,” Jackie Heuberger said. “And so too did Shay.”
Koy McQuillen also had a key base hit in the win, which the team’s sixth in seven games.
The Warriors, who improved to 18-6 on the season, will host No. 3 seed Salesian in Wednesday’s semifinal at 5 p.m.
No. 4 Fortuna will also play in the D-4 semifinals after a walk-off 2-1 win over Hoopa on Friday, keeping alive the hope of an all-local championship game next weekend.
The Huskies will play No. 1 seed Cardinal Newman in their semifinal.
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