On April 26, the Regals softball team hosted Chapman for its senior day.
Unfortunately, the Regals didn’t end their season on the best note, falling to Chapman 8-0 in the first game of the double header and 3-1 in the second.
However, what was more important to the Regals on the final day of their 2014 season was not to win, but to come out and have fun as a team and to honor the five seniors who contributed so much to the softball program over the last four years.
The five seniors who were honored on Hutton field on April 26 were Kayla Sakamoto, Katelyn Downing, Danika Green, Kelly Lockwood and Stephanie Martello.
Senior centerfielder Sakamoto has been a four-year starter for the Regals and has made a tremendous impact during her softball career at California Lutheran University. Earning second team All-SCIAC her sophomore year, she has started in all but one of her 149 games and has been the primary leadoff batter all four years. She boasts a career .322 average with 150 hits, 32 RBIs and 88 runs. On April 26, in the second game, starting pitcher Shonna Christianson hit a double to the right center field gap and Sakamoto brought her home with a bunt single, giving the Regals their only run of the day.
“It’s sad that it is over but it was a good journey, we started off really well this season and I couldn’t have asked for a better season,” Sakamoto said. “I learned a lot so I can’t be upset. Coming in to our game today we already knew our season was pretty much over statistically wise so we just came out to have fun and enjoy our last day out here.”
Senior Pitcher and outfielder Downing has pitched in 88 games accumulating 400.2 innings of action, and has 154 strike outs, which is eighth most in history and her four saves are a school record. She holds a career .276 batting average with 72 hits, 12 doubles, 25 RBIs and 47 runs scored. In her final appearance on Saturday, Downing threw 7.0 innings, striking out two and walking none in the second game of the double header. She also collected one hit that day.
“It has been quite a ride coming from freshman year and I’m just so proud of everyone coming out stronger each year and how much we’ve developed and I don’t expect anything but better for this team as they continue on,” Downing said. “I came out during the last inning and I was thinking ‘wow this is it’ and I brought in the outfield and told them that we should finish this like how we started because we started really well this year and that’s how I wanted to go out, and that’s how our seniors deserve to go out.”
Primarily the team’s designated hitter, Green has started in 126 of her 145 games and earned second team All-SCIAC her freshman year. She accumulated a .317 batting average, collected 113 hits with 21 doubles, a triple and three homeruns.
“It’s a bitter sweet feeling. It’s sad because it ended but I couldn’t choose a better group of girls to end my year with. This has by far been my best year here and I don’t regret a second of it,” Green said.
Second baseman and shortstop, Lockwood joined the Regals in 2013 and started in all 30 games she played in. In her two seasons she holds a .307 batting average that includes 54 hits with 11 doubles, three triples and five homeruns, which ties her for eighth all-time at CLU for homeruns in a season. She has scored 27 runs and has 35 RBIs during her career here. Lockwood collected one hit during Saturday’s games.
“It’s very emotional, its exciting to move on but its also hard because we’ve been doing this since we were little, but now it’s on to a new chapter. Our strategy coming in today was to have a good time and try and get two wins but it doesn’t always work out like that. We just wanted to end on a positive note and have fun together,” Lockwood said.
Shortstop Martello joined the Regals for her final collegiate season of softball and made an immediate impact on the team earning the starting shortstop position in every game this season. She has accumulated a .321 batting average with 34 hits, including a team leading six doubles and two triples. She has driven in 21 runs scoring 19 times. Martello stepped up both offensively and defensively on Saturday being the only Regal with a multi-hit day and had 10 total touches in the field, including five putouts and five assists.
“I feel like it’s time I guess, it was a great season and I met a great group of girls so overall, I’m really happy with the season and about meeting these great coaches and girls. But I told the seniors we are all really good people with bright futures so now it’s time to take what we learned in softball and how its taught us to be and take that into our careers,” Martello said.
Head coach Debby Day explained how the hardest part of coaching is not the frustrations or the losing it’s ending the season knowing the seniors aren’t coming back.
“We are a family, dysfunctional at times, but we have a very close knit group and we have five outstanding student athletes and I’m going to miss every single one of them,” Day said. “We have not been playing our best ball these last two weekends of the season and that’s a shame because these girls have worked extremely hard all year. Things just didn’t work out but I’m really proud of this group and really happy with how far we have come and I am already looking forward to next year.”
CLU (19-19, 13-15 SCIAC) finished sixth in SCIAC for its 2014 season.
Published April 30, 2014