CALABASAS — Outside of three returning seniors, the Providence High softball team primarily consisted of newcomers to the sport this season.
Yet, even with that inexperience, the Pioneers remained intent on winning the Liberty League crown.
They put forth a valiant effort all season, but ultimately fell short of locking up a share of the title Friday afternoon following a 9-1 loss to host Viewpoint.
Still, Providence (8-9-1, 4-2 in league) will advance to the CIF Southern Section playoffs as the league runner-up, with postseason pairings expected to be announced Monday.
"I thought it was a very good season," Providence Coach Joel Curtis said. "It was challenging, but they're all good girls. There was good camaraderie. They all wanted to learn and they all put their best foot forward. They played hard, worked hard.
"Definitely something to look forward to the future [with six of those eight newcomers expected to return next season]."
Jackie Brewer, the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, crushed a solo home run to center in the opening inning, but other than that, the Pioneers struggled at the plate. They struck out 12 times and mustered only five hits to the Patriots' nine.
Viewpoint (14-5, 6-0) delivered early and built a large lead, scoring four runs in the first and three more in the second inning. By way of Friday's victory, the Patriots win the league title outright and were responsible for Providence's only two league losses.
"I'm disappointed we lost, but we did play a good game," said Brewer, who finished one for three. "We came up with a good fight.
"I've been on this team for four years and we've never beaten Viewpoint, but it's OK. I think we were anxious to hit the ball, so it was tough to relax and drive it."
Viewpoint hit two home runs — the latter an inside-the-park homer — which gave the Patriots an 8-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning.
Providence gave up only three hits the rest of the way.
Through seven innings, Pioneers' pitcher Caitie Guttry struck out three and walked three.
"This game was tough," said Guttry, one of three seniors on the team. "I think we all came out here wanting to win, but we kind of lost it in the beginning of the game. We came back to shut them down, but we didn't get any hits and that's what was probably most vital to winning the game.
"But I'm proud of us. I'm proud of what we've done this season. We have a lot of freshmen this year and they've grown leaps and bounds. They came here with no experience and now they're great ball players, so I'm proud of them."
With a wealth of young players, Curtis is looking toward the future.
"I thought it was a very good season," Curtis said. "We have eight girls who have never played and we have three returning seniors. So they've all come up to speed and it's a big difference from those first games, when we were getting blown out, 23-2. Just a big turnaround; I think they turned the corner. Definitely something to look forward to in the future."