Early turmoil seals Comets opening loss

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

The softball team opened its 2015 season in dramatic fashion, but not as intended, as it fell in both games of a doubleheader against Chabot College (2-2 overall) 21-1 and 13-1 on Thursday at the Softball Field.

By the end of the first inning, Contra Costa College (0-2 overall) was already at a disadvantage as it trailed 11-1 in its first game of non-conference play. After the tilted inning, the squad settled down and gave up fewer runs each inning as the game progressed.

The Comets played with multiple starters out of the lineup. This forced many players to play out of their normal position and pushed coach Karolyn Gubbine to fling new players into the starting lineup.

“For some of us it was a learning experience, so we took it as that,” CCC left fielder Cathy Nieva-Duran said. “(Gubbine) didn’t want us to dwell on our mistakes, just recognize them and get better.”

Comet starting pitcher Melissa Watkins got ahead early in the count, throwing a strike with her first pitch as a collegiate student-athlete. The second pitch, however, was sharply hit to left field to allow a Gladiator runner to get on base.

The following batter slapped a ball back toward third base, but after fielding the ball a bad throw allowed the lead off runner to reach home to give Chabot an early lead.

“We were nervous in the beginning. I had butterflies in my stomach way before game time. It was my first softball game,” CCC third baseman Jazmine Simmons-Morrison said.

The first Gladiator out came on a grounder hit to shortstop Cecily Ragsdale. She scooped up the ball and shot it to first on target and in rhythm, easily beating the speedy Gladiator runner.

Instead of the textbook out inspiring the squad, it was followed by a flurry of walks and fielding errors that helped extend the Chabot lead to five runs midway into the first inning.

Throughout the first game there were not many hard hit balls given up by Watkins. Infield bloopers compounded by bad fielding decisions scored the majority of the Gladiators’ runs.

After roughly 45 minutes in the field, the squad relished its first opportunity to get some at bats as it transitioned into the bottom of the first inning.

With the first pitch any Comet saw all season, leadoff hitter Roquel Ryan smacked the ball through the gap giving the team its opportunity to put runs on the board.

The Comets most valuable player of the day was Ragsdale, who also pitched the second game of the doubleheader.

In her first at bat she placed a shallow bunt down the third base line advancing Ryan into scoring position, but failing to beat the throw to first.

Crouching and chasing errant balls robbed Comet catcher Angelica Espinal of her stamina, which was evident in the player’s body language as she stepped into the batter’s box.

After making contact with a pitch, as if to add insult to injury, Espinal was hit in the head with the ball while beating out the throw to first base.

Espinal toughed it out and remained in the game earning her first RBI of the season.

“It was a tough game,” Gubbine said. “Every girl was playing out of her normal position. They didn’t quit in either game, and they stayed with it until the end.”

CCC players get a chance to test what they learned in another double-header when they challenge Diablo Valley College Saturday beginning at  noon on the Softball Field.