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Warriors fourth in Valley League softball standings

Lose to Yellow Jackets in first round of CIF playoffs

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Fallbrook High School’s softball team placed fourth among the five Valley League clubs, and the Warriors participated in the CIF playoffs but lost in the first round.

The 8-2 playoff loss May 16 at Palo Verde Valley High School gave the Warriors an overall season record of 5-13. The team was 2-6 in league games.

“I’m not disappointed with our season,” said Fallbrook coach Lisa Stehle.

The 2022 Warriors won the CIF San Diego Section Division V championship and lost in the first round of the state playoffs. Including five post-season games the Warriors’ overall record was 12‑15. The 2022 team had four seniors including league player of the year Baylee Howley, who this year batted .313 for the University of North Dakota team.

“It was a semi-rebuild year. We lost the middle of our field last year,” Stehle said.

(Howley played catcher. Mel Beccera, who played center field for the 2022 Warriors, was an honorable mention all-league selection as a senior. One of the other 2022 seniors, Lexi Perez, was Fallbrook’s starting shortstop.)

“I think the girls did a good job filling in where we had gaps,” Stehle said.

Stehle considers the difference of five regular-season games rather than the loss of four seniors to be the biggest reason for the Warriors’ 2023 record.

“We had a lot of impacts with the weather,” Stehle said. “It impacted the number of games we could get.”

The weather also reduced the number of practices the Warriors had. “It cost us about a month,” she said.

“It just cut down on the amount of time we could get with the season,” Stehle said. “We didn’t finish the way we hoped it would go.”

The 2022 Valley League consisted of Fallbrook, Escondido, Ramona, San Pasqual, Valley Center and Westview. Fallbrook’s 2023 league opponents were Mission Vista, Oceanside, Sage Creek and Vista.

“The leagues were aligned differently this year,” Stehle said.

Mission Vista won the Valley League with an 8-0 record; the Timberwolves’ victories against Fallbrook were a 12-1 game April 19 in Fallbrook and a 5-0 match May 5 in Oceanside. Sage Creek had a 7‑2 record with the Bobcats losing twice to Mission Vista while defeating Fallbrook twice including a 13-1 game May 10 at Fallbrook, which concluded the Warriors’ regular season. Both of Fallbrook’s league wins were against Vista.

Fallbrook was moved up to Division IV for CIF playoff purposes this year. The CIF playoff selection and seeding meeting May 13 gave the Warriors the tenth seed in the Division IV playoffs, which sent the Warriors to Blythe for the first-round game against Palo Verde Valley.

“We ended up in Blythe playing in 104 degrees,” Stehle said.

The Warriors scored a run in the top of the first. Palo Verde sent seven runners across the plate in the third inning. Each team scored once in the fourth.

“When you’re playing at 3:30 in the afternoon in 104 degree weather it most definitely had a massive impact,” Stehle said.

The Warriors committed four fielding errors, and all eight Palo Verde Valley runs were unearned. Fallbrook starting pitcher Hana Winton allowed seven of those runs but only allowed two hits and three walks. Winton hurled three innings and struck out nine Yellow Jackets batters. She also hit a home run to account for one of Fallbrook’s runs and one of the Warriors’ four hits.

“There was still growth with the team, but we would have had more growth had we had that month that got taken away,” Stehle said.

“We have a lot of room we still have to go,” Stehle said. “That’s okay. We’ll get there.”

Claire Hawthorne and Alyssa Wilson were the only seniors on the 2023 Warriors.

 

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