CANOGA PARK — In reflecting back on its recently-concluded season, the Providence High softball team is perhaps least likely to remember a 16-0 road loss Wednesday to Faith Baptist in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division VII playoffs.
That's because, despite yielding 14 hits and committing 10 errors, the Pioneers started the season with a slate of newcomers to the sport, yet still managed to finish as the Liberty League runner-ups while clinching an unlikely playoff berth.
"At the beginning of the season, we didn't think we'd even make it to the playoffs because we were such a young team. So even getting to play in this game was a big deal," sophomore pitcher Sierra Nelson said. "At the beginning of the season, a lot of our girls had never even thrown a softball before. So we faced a lot of challenges in that, but we've grown."
Wednesday, Providence (8-10-1) was unable to match the hitting power of the Contenders (15-9).
The Pioneers mustered only three hits, with two coming in the sixth inning with the game out of reach.
Faith Baptist delivered early, leading off the game with four hits, including an inside-the-park home run to left that gave the Contenders a 5-0 cushion. They scored two more in the second and tacked on seven in a monster third inning.
Providence's Estelle Glorioso led off the sixth with a single to right and then stole second with Jackie Brewer on deck. After Brewer's flyout to second, Gian-Mari Llaguno whacked a double that nearly drove in Glorioso, who was thrown out at home.
Coach Joel Curtis, who instructed her to round home, took responsibility for the missed scoring opportunity, calling it "E10."
A batter later, a 2-3 sequence ended the inning.
"We just struggled mostly at the bat," Curtis said. "But the main thing is they never gave up. They kept making the plays, kept running and just tried really hard."
The Pioneers also had to make adjustments because of an illness and injuries to their players.
Cattie Guttry, who missed school Monday with a sore throat, pitched a complete game. She recorded two strikeouts and did not allow a hit in the latter two innings.
And catcher Phylizia Carrillo's thumb injury also forced Providence to rearrange its infield lineup.
"We moved some girls around. They played out of position, but they did a really good job," Curtis said.
Among the bright spots was the production by freshman Emily Alford, who got the team's first hit of the game. She hit a two-out double in the second inning that hit the center-field fence. She was unable to score, however, after Faith Baptist's Jacquelyn Rasmussen struck out Amanda Suard.
Alford finished one for three, batting sixth in the order, giving Curtis hope with six freshmen returning next year.
"The fact that our freshmen really stepped up and are really starting to pick up things," he said, "we have nothing but good things to look forward to in the future."