Douglas softball armed with experience |

Douglas softball armed with experience

Jasmine McNinch

An experienced Douglas High softball team is launching its new season this weekend against a lineup of California opponents at the Victory/Elk Grove Preseason Tournament in Sacramento.

Douglas has 12 players with varsity experience back from a team that went 12-24 overall and 10-12 in league last season, including Kettja Bennett, Mackenzie Brixey, Haley Doughty, Amanda Hoffman, Jasmine McNinch, Kendal Moore, Grace Nichols, Casey Peck, Chloie Pratt, Alyssa Smokey, Destiny Vaughan and Bailey Walter. John Glover is entering his first season as head coach, however, he previously served as head baseball coach at Douglas from 2003-10 and again in 2015.

Brixey (outfield), Hoffman (pitcher), Peck (infield) and Pratt (catcher) are playing in their fourth varsity season while Bennett and McNinch are in their third season. McNinch was a second-team all-region outfielder last year, while Hoffman and Vaughan received honorable mention recognition as pitchers. McNinch hit seven home runs during the 2017 season.

The Tigers are being tested early with tournament games at the Sacramento Sports Complex. They open on Thursday against a Pioneer (Woodland, Calif.) team that has won seven Tri-County Conference championships in eight years. Senior pitcher Rachel Gordon struck out 20 of the 26 batters she faced on Feb. 28 in the Patriots’ season-opening 7-1 win over Sacramento McClatchy.

On Friday, the Tigers face Vintage (Napa, Calif.) and then a Woodcreek (Roseville, Calif.) team that has four third-year varsity veterans of its own. They conclude the tournament on Saturday against Sacramento area opponents Christian Brothers and Antelope.

Douglas has more talent than last year’s record indicates, which can be seen by the outcome of two Northern 4A Region Tournament games in Reno. The Tigers hit four home runs and led early in an opening round game they lost 9-6 against Bishop Manogue. Then Smokey hit a three-run homer to help stake the Tigers to an early 5-0 lead, only to see Spanish Springs rally for an 11-6 win.

The Tigers had punched their postseason ticket with a pair of come-from-behind wins over Carson (10-8 and 7-6) to end the regular season, aided by clutch home runs from Walter and Moore.

Bennett was honored as a first-team all-region pitcher as a freshman in 2016, highlighted by back-to-back shutouts against Reno and McQueen during the region tournament. Hoffman also received honorable mention all-region recognition that season. The Tigers won 21 games and fell one game short of a state tournament berth in 2016.