Just in case you haven’t noticed, perhaps the best storyline and most impressive performance taking place locally on the diamond is being authored by the Escondido Charter softball team. How hot have the White Tigers been? Well, it’s gotten to the point where you fully expect flames to rise from their torrid bats and smoke to emanate from any fastball their pitcher delivers. Trying to douse the raging inferno EC has become might require nothing short of an act of nature. In short, these kids are blazing.
Permit me to convey an adequate feel for the type of dominance Charter has exhibited to date.Currently the owners of a sparkling 18-3 overall record, the White Tigers are in the midst of lengthy eight-game winning streak, not having lost since late March. They have held foes to one run or less a re-markable thirteen times, outscored their opposition 207 to 50 and are arguably the best team in the San Diego Section Division IV.
But there’s more. Already having sewn up the title in the Coastal League, EC is looking to secure a perfect 8-0 ledger in that circuit after it hosts La Jolla Country Day in this week’s regular-season finale.
However, that’s hardly all there is to tell. Try this factoid on for size. Charter has a hefty seven players raking to the tune of a .418 average or better.
Making this juggernaut all the more imposing is the reality that the White Tigers are ignited by a pair of marquee performers who are providing production that is hard to compute, let alone fathom.
And oh yeah, that pair of stalwarts is getting a ton of impactful support and assistance from a number of dynamite teammates.
Hopefully, you now have at least an understand-ing as to why Charter has been on such a roll. Will these prowling cats eventually be stopped somewhere along the line during the upcoming postseason? Who can tell for certain but betting against them feels like an altogether losing proposition.
Standout teams generally have a couple of go-to performers to count on and EC certainly falls into that category. In senior captains Lacey Bainbridge and Hailey Alspach, Charter has genuine and bona fide showstoppers.
Let’s start with Bainbridge and her undeniably educated bat. Not only does this batter extraordinaire pace her club in hits (36), RBIs (27), extra-base raps (14), OBP (.726) and runs scored (24) but she is also doing so while forging a mind-blowing .692 average. That kind of prolific swinging is usually reserved for myth-ical folks like Roy Hobbs or Joe Hardy of Damn Yankees fame. If one didn’t know better, you’d swear Lacey was wielding some sort of magic wand whenever she steps to the plate.
And then there is the multi-dimensional Alspach. Although an accomplished hitter in her own right, it is on the mound where Alspach really shines. Amazingly, this rubber-armed wonder has appeared in every Charter game en route to posting a glossy 15-2 record, 1.33 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 105 innings of work. That kind of stunning stamina and proficiency mark her as an immensely valuable commodity.
No question that Bainbridge and Alspach are definitely the straws that stir the drink but there’s no denying that the White Tigers have some terrific sidekicks also aiding the cause as well.
The left side of EC’s infield has been particularly productive with shortstop Julia Shepard (.424 BA, 28 H) and sophomore third baseman Gionna Mehrtens (.418 BA, 23 RBIs) doing some serious stroking.
Junior outfielder Shelbie Van Slyke is another who has swung a mighty stick as her scintillating .528 average and high hit total would attest.
But the conga line of nifty hitters hardly ends there. Seniors Hannah Alspach (.442 BA) and Jaylin Alvarado (.324 BA) have certainly had their moments. And clearly youngsters Jade Loper (.379 BA), Marianna Bedolla (.452 BA) and Natalia Powers (.464 BA) have made a mark while dis-playing a boatload of potential.
Buoyed by a stacked and deep lineup and anchored by a whiz of an ace in Alspach, the White Tigers will be a huge championship threat when the playoffs commence next week. If they can play anywhere near their considerable potential, it’ll take a special ball club to derail them. Right now, Charter is akin to an express train with little intention of slowing down.
Last season, EC gave a hint of things to come when it authored a fine 12-3 slate. Build-ing on that momentum and obviously responding to the deft guidance of first-year coach Jeff Johnson and his able staff, the White Tigers have upped the ante and elevated them-selves onto an even higher plane.
As a result, their focus is squarely on making a concerted title run because when you’re crushing it like they have been, you can’t help but think big.