BURBANK — Providence High junior pitcher Sierra Nelson admitted she and her Providence High softball teammates were nervous heading into Monday's game.
Fielding a young team that featured just two seniors and one junior, the Pioneers were apprehensive about how they would perform in their season opener against Sherman Indian.
Turns out the Pioneers had nothing to worry about.
Providence built an early lead and was able to take advantage of pitching struggles by the Braves to earn a 13-6 nonleague victory at Olive Park.
"We were all nervous before the game," said Nelson, who picked up the win in going the distance in the circle. "But we do a lot of team bonding, and we know we have each other's backs. We are always there to support one another and I think that helps us on the field."
Providence Coach Joel Curtis admitted his team's performance was far from flawless. However, taking into consideration the squad's youth, and the fact that it was the first game of the season, the Pioneers skipper said he was pleased with the effort.
"I told than that they all did something good today," Curtis said. "We have some new girls who have never played with us, so for them to get in the game and get the experience was a big positive for us. We were also able to swing the ball pretty well and we were very patient at the plate.
"We do have a lot to learn and there are definitely some things that we will have to work on. But overall, I'm pleased with how they played today."
Nelson got into her share of problems throughout the contest. However, she was able to work out of a majority of those situations with little or no damage done. The hurler didn't surrender more than two runs in any inning, limiting Sherman Indian to just four hits — none of which came after the third inning. In addition, Nelson struck out 12.
"It's nice that I was able to get the runs behind me," Nelson said. "What was great today is that we've been working on some things in practice, and they were able to do some of those things today."
Providence received a solid offensive effort from cleanup hitter Salina Hasrouty, who went two for two with two walks, one run scored and two runs batted in.
Nelson began the game strongly in the top of the first inning, striking out the first two Sherman Indian batters that she faced. However, No. 3 hitter Shelyn Marshall roped a triple to right-center field and was able to come home on a wild pitch. After walking the next two batters, Nelson induced a strikeout to end the inning.
Providence came right back, however, knotting the score at 1 in its portion of the first. Tabitha Taylan was able to reach base on an error, stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Taylan came around to score on a run-scoring single to left by Hasrouty.
The Pioneers added to their tally by bringing 11 batters to the plate in the second and pushing across six runs. Megan Mai delivered a single that scored two runs and Nelson, Ashley Coral and Taylan drove in runs in the inning to put Providence up, 7-1.
But the Braves battled back, tallying a single run in the third and two in both the fourth and fifth innings to cut the deficit to just one, 7-6.
However, another big inning would give Providence some much-needed breathing room. The hosts tacked on six runs in the fifth inning, taking advantage of four walks and getting a two-run scoring double from Coral.
"We just have to cut down on our strikeouts looking because that is a pet peeve of mine." Curtis said. "But we took the walks and that was good. I'm happy overall."