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REGION SOFTBALL: Basic makes strides, tops expectations

Little was expected from Basic’s softball team this season. The Wolves missed the Sunrise Region playoffs last year, then lost one of the best players in the program’s recent history to graduation.

For a while, Basic appeared to be playing down to those expectations, winning only two of their first six Southeast League games.

“We were going nowhere,” coach Bart Black said. “Even in our wins, we weren’t playing the best we could play.”

Suddenly it all came together.

Better defense and a balanced offense led to wins in seven of their final nine games against Southeast competition and earned the Wolves (14-9) a postseason bid. Basic, which beat Silverado in a play-in game Friday, opens the Sunrise tournament at Northeast League champion Eldorado (23-4) at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“Every team would kill for nine solid starters,” senior catcher Leah Causey said. “We’ve just worked on that all year, every single person from the first batter to the ninth batter, just doing their job.”

The Wolves have done it despite the graduation loss of pitcher and power hitter Lacey Romo, who even while limited by injuries last year was one of the top players in the league and one of Basic’s better players in recent memory.

“We used that as motivation to pretty much prove to the region that we could do it without Lacey, even though she was a great pitcher,” Causey said.

Basic’s offense isn’t intimidating, but it is potent. The Wolves have speed atop   the lineup with Paige Blake and Jessica Pittman, power in the middle courtesy of Marissa Ross, Causey and Tiana Tapuala, and tough outs at the bottom.

“We don’t have a person in the lineup who is an automatic out,” Black said. “You’ve got to work against us. Our motto is every at bat is a war. We want to make the pitchers work.”

The Wolves continue to improve defensively, led by Tapuala, Teuila Sheehan and Summer Masden, who have provided steady efforts in the circle.

“They all know what their job is,” Black said. “We don’t ask them to go out and strike people out. We just have to make the plays. The games that we’ve lost, we just haven’t made the plays. The games where we play nearly perfect defense, I’m confident we’ll be in those games.”

The Sunrise tournament continues at Foothill and Coronado through Friday and concludes Saturday at Bishop Gorman.

The Sunset Region tournament also begins Tuesday at host sites and shifts to Legacy and Gorman on Wednesday. The Sunset final also is Saturday at Gorman.

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