Girls softball: Lady Mats’ triple threat wrap up their final season together

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Mika Maenaga (left) recounts the ways the Senior Emily Simmons (right) has helped her grow as a player. Simmons is the catcher for the team.

Joshua Tsuei

After gathering together, Coach Ray Teixeira spoke about the players to the families. After speaking individually about each senior, the coach let the rest of the team speak about their experiences with their senior friends.

“The season was phenomenal” said Teixeira. “We had more stability this year — last year we had six freshmen, but their experience this year took a lot of pressure off of the upperclassmen.”

The team had a great season, making CCS — the first time in four years — and finishing the year with a record of 21-6, a big difference from last year’s 7-20 mark.

At the top of the first inning, raucous Cupertino players cheered as Senior Tamanna Ahluwalia walked their first batter on a series of messy pitches. In response, the Lady Mats roared louder, encouraging Ahluwalia with shouts of “Nice pitch, T”. The cheers seemed to calm her nerves, as Ahluwalia closed out the top of the first without another hit.

MVHS’ batting lineup wasted no time grabbing control of the game. With a runner on second, Junior Marissa Lee connected with the ball for a line drive triple, bringing home MVHS’ first run of the game and an early lead that they would never give up.

For the next six innings, MVHS just played better, solidifying a solid 5-1 lead going into the seventh and final inning of the game. With the game in the bag, the Lady Mats decided to have some fun. As a tribute to her 3-year varsity journey and her monumental impact on the growth of the team, Senior Janaye Sakkas was brought in to relieve Ahluwalia. To celebrate the contributions of the outgoing seniors, the team shared a hug on the field at the end of the 6th inning.

Sakkas started off rusty, struggling to pitch successfully against the Pioneers. She gave up two hits and a walk, loading the bases for the Pioneers, while successfully pitching two CHS players out. The final player swung powerfully, but Sakkas managed to catch the ball, ending the game with a score of 5-1 in favor of the Lady Mats.

“Our team dynamic changed this year,” said Sophomore Amanda Chan. “We bonded more, which I think was a key to our success.”

Mika Maenaga (left) recounts the ways the Senior Emily Simmons (right) has helped her grow as a player. Simmons is the catcher for the team.
Mika Maenaga (left) recounts the ways the Senior Emily Simmons (right) has helped her grow as a player. Simmons is the catcher for the team.

Senior Emily Simmons: “The season was really fun. This was my first year trying out for softball, and it has given me my favorite memories of high school. These girls, I love them and I’m going to miss them like crazy.”

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Senior Janae Sakkas hits a line drive to center field. Sakkas would replace Ahluwalia as pitcher in the final inning of the game

Senior Janae Sakkas: “I’ve really grown over the past four years. I started softball when I was little but never thought I would keep playing — I did though and I’ve really loved it. Being with the team and having people behind my back helped me to improve.”

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Senior Tamanna Ahluwalia pitches to Simmons (not pictured) for a strike. She started the game inconsistently, but found her form to close out a solid overall performance.

Senior Tamanna Ahluwalia: “In the first two innings I struggled a little bit, but after that I was pretty consistent.”