By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Ending a decade-long playoff drought, Santa Rosa seeks to stay around in the state junior college softball tournament.
After finishing strong in the tough Big 8 Conference, the Bear Cubs host San Jose City College in a best-of-three opening round matchup this weekend.
“We don’t just want to get to the playoffs, we want to get on a run,” said pitcher and hitting standout Megan Winters. “Our goal is to see what we can do. We think we can actually go all the way.”
Santa Rosa is a confident squad. Winning five of their last six games, Santa Rosa finished tied for third in the conference. Overall, the Bear Cubs are 7th in Northern California and 17th in the state based on schedule strength and record.
CCCAA Softball Playoffs
Round One, Best of Three: San Jose City College at SRJC
Saturday, 2 p.m., Sunday, 12 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m. [if needed]
“We scheduled tougher. But we had to win,” said coach Phil Wright. “We’re peaking at the right time.”
The California Community College Athletic Association playoffs feature 16 teams in the north and 16 teams in the south. The opening round is best-of-three matchups. Winners advance to a pair of four-team super regionals in both the north and the south. The final four is a double elimination format.
Stingy pitching should make Santa Rosa tough to beat. Santa Rosa is fifth in the state with opponents only hitting .213 against Bear Cubs pitchers. The staff’s 2.62 earned run average is 14th in the state.
Leading the staff in wins is Dana Thomsen, from Petaluma high. Winters, from Analy, leads in innings pitched and complete games.
The pair often shares duties in games to keep opposing batters off balance. Both are steady in pressure situations.
“We kind of think of the playoffs as just another game,” Winters said.
With the aces limiting opponents at the plate, Santa Rosa has found enough offense to grind out wins. Santa Rosa has played 14 games this season decided by one or two runs — winning ten.
“We’re getting timely hitting,” said slugger Krystina Pardoski. “We just need to stay consistent.”
An infielder from Garberville, Pardoski paces Santa Rosa in batting average, extra base hits, and runs. Also strong with the bat are Winters, Samantha Bartee, from Maria Carrillo, and Chauntel Cesna, out of Fairfield.
A team strength has been conditioning, helping Santa Rosa finish off wins. The Bear Cubs have worked to tighten play on defense.
“We’re a really fundamentally strong team. We’re just a more well-rounded team this year,” Pardoski said.
Good and having fun, Santa Rosa wants to keep this turn around season going. Players remember the frustration of narrowly missing last year’s state tournament.
“We’ve worked hard,” Winters said. “We know what we have to get done.”