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Wheatland softball thinking big in 2013
May, McIntyre, McLanahan lead Pirates in 17-0 victory over Live Oak
The players may not want to discuss it just yet, but the goal for Wheatland High's softball team this year is pretty cut and dry.
After falling short to Anderson in the Northern Section Division IV championship game the previous two seasons, the Pirates enter 2013 wanting nothing more than to get over that hurdle and bring home their first section title since 2007.
They certainly have the players to do it, too.
With a veteran-laden roster featuring two-time Butte View League MVP Randi May and A-D All-Area performers Tara McIntyre at shortstop and Mikayla McLanahan behind the dish, Wheatland is not only the team to beat in the BVL once again, but a group that is set up to make another extended run in the postseason.
"We haven't talked about it a lot, but in the back their minds, they know it," coach Jim Vossler said of his team's title aspirations. "We're a deep team hitting-wise, so we can extend the game. You're not going to have an easy out against any of them, and that makes it tough for other teams."
That was evident on Thursday afternoon when the Pirates rode the right arm of May in the circle and pounded out 18 hits at the plate to pick up a 17-0 victory over Live Oak in a game that was shortened to five innings due to the 10-run rule.
McIntyre, the team's speedy lead-off hitter, set the tone at the top of the order by going 4 for 5 with an RBI and four runs scored. May helped her own cause by going 3 for 4 with five RBIs and McLanahan went 2 for 4 with four RBIs, including a three-run homer over the fence in left-center in the fourth inning.
Also chipping in for the Pirates (2-0) were seniors Tah-Nee Rios and Kirstin Johnson, both of whom finished the day 3 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
May also excelled in the pitching department, striking out 12 and walking just one in a complete-game, two-hitter. The senior, who is headed to Texas Women's University on scholarship next season, struck out nine of the first 10 batters she faced before giving up a double to Clarissa Herrera with one down in the fourth.
Tammie Tew-Thomas singled in the fifth to account for the only other hit for Live Oak (1-1).
"We've got a lot of new kids, but we've got our core group, too," May said. "That's the thing about softball. It's a team game and you can't do it by yourself. You can try, but you'll fail."
A balanced offensive attack should bode well for a Pirates' team that ran into one of the best pitchers in Northern Section history in Anderson's Cheridan Hawkins the last two championship games. Hawkins is now pitching at the University of Oregon with former Sutter standout Jessica Moore, who also beat Wheatland in the 2006 and 2008 title contests.
"We've got four championship game losses to Oregon pitchers, but the good thing is, we don't have to worry about them this year," Vossler joked.
Up next for the Pirates is the Lindhurst Tournament, where they will take on the host Blazers and Paradise today followed by Vanden and River Valley on Saturday. They will also play at the Pleasant Valley Tournament in Chico next weekend, where they will take on some of the Northern Section's largest schools.
"We're challenging ourselves schedule-wise," Vossler said. "I don't think we'll play a school our size for the next nine tournament games, and that should help us down the road."