The season came to an end Wednesday for the Palo Alto softball team in a 5-1 loss to host Los Gatos in the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs.
But the season ending in the CCS playoffs represents a big step forward. The Vikings improved from 7-16 in 2016 to 12-6 this year.
“We made a ton of progress,’’ Palo Alto coach Brooke Binkley said. “We went from third to last all the way to CCS against a very good team.’’
It was a big challenge for Palo Alto, the third-place team from the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League’s El Camino Division, to take on Los Gatos (20-8), the second-place team from the SCVAL De Anza Division.
Mackenzie Glassford led off the game with a triple for Palo Alto, but was left stranded at third. The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a leadoff double and a two-out single.
The game stayed 1-0 until the fifth inning when Dhesya Salsabila Swezey hit a two-out double for Palo Alto and scored on a single by Teddie Stewart.
So it was 1-1 going to the bottom of the fifth. Palo Alto needed a shutdown inning but did not get one. Los Gatos scored two runs on one hit and four Paly errors to take a 3-1 lead. The Wildcats added two more runs in the sixth on four hits.
Milpitas and Saratoga tied for the El Camino title at 11-1. Palo Alto was three games back at 8-4, so this is not yet a year in which Paly can make a case to move up to the De Anza. But that time is coming soon, according to Binkley.
“We need one more year,’’ she said. “Then we’ll be ready to go.’’
Sophie Frick, a junior, plays shortstop and bats cleanup for the Vikings.
“We have definitely improved,’’ Frick said, “especially last season to this season. Last season we’d get in a hole and just give up.This year it was really exciting to make CCS as an underdog and be in a tie game until the (fifth) inning.’’