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Warriors softball team meets improvement goals

The 7-17 overall record and 1-7 Valley League mark for Fallbrook High School's softball team might not look impressive, but Fallbrook coach Ken Pilbin considers the Warriors' season to be a success.

"Our goals were to improve upon our season from last year with hopes of making the playoffs," Pilbin said. "We started off very strong at 7-7."

Although the Warriors would lose their final 10 games of the season, in part due to strong competition and in part due to injuries, the seven wins exceeded Fallbrook's 2016 total when the Warriors had an overall record of 4-19.

"Overall, we're very pleased with the progress from last year to this year," said Pilbin.

Last year Fallbrook had a 2-8 performance during Valley League play with both victories being obtained against Orange Glen. The realignment of the North County Conference removed Orange Glen as well as Mission Vista and Oceanside from the Valley League while adding Escondido and San Pasqual. Fallbrook's initial league match and only league win of 2017 was a 10-9 victory over San Pasqual, which would end the regular season tied for second in the league standings.

The Warriors also raised their team batting average from .225 last year to .268 this season. "We did improve quite a lot from last year," Pilbin said.

Had it not been for the injuries, Fallbrook likely would have made this year's CIF Division III playoffs.

"We had quite a few, particularly our pitching staff," said Pilbin. "Every one of our pitchers were injured at one point or another during the season."

Fallbrook's final game of 2017 was a May 11 contest at home that resulted in Ramona High School's 37th consecutive league victory, which ties the Bulldogs for second on the all-time CIF San Diego Section list for consecutive league wins. Randie Bueno, who is normally Fallbrook's shortstop, hurled the final innings of the game shortened by the 10-run mercy rule.

"We just did not have a healthy pitcher who could throw any more," Pilbin said.

Ramona eventually reached the CIF Open Division championship game and lost in extra innings. The factors in the power rankings which are used to determine CIF playoff selection and seeding include strength of schedule.

"We did have a very difficult league, so our strength of schedule actually helped us," said Pilbin.

Twelve teams were selected for the CIF Division III playoffs. Fallbrook was 13th in the power rankings, 0.02 points behind 12th-seeded Chula Vista.

"We were just having to mix and match to do the best we could," Pilbin said.

Ironically the Warriors defeated eventual Division III champion Christian High School during the regular season. A March 30 Jaguar Classic tournament game between Fallbrook and Christian ended as an 8-7 Warriors victory.

"Our young players got some great experience," Pilbin said. "Half of our team are underclassmen and they contributed a lot to our season."

The 15 players on this year's varsity consisted of seven seniors, three sophomores, and five freshmen.

"We are very optimistic about our future and looking forward to next season," said Pilbin.


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