Head coach Amy Tillson called her team out after dropping consecutive shutout losses to Foothill and Analy at the Livermore Stampede tournament, stressing that each player needed to be more accountable for her play and step up her execution for the team to succeed. Her players responded, rattling off three straight wins to claim an eighth-place finish in the Stampede Flight division and returning to league play with three straight wins.
Deer Valley followed up a pivotal win over Heritage last Thursday with another lopsided victory over winless Ygnacio Valley on Tuesday afternoon, and traveled to cross-town rival Antioch on Thursday after the Press went to print.
Last Thursday's 1-0 win at home over Heritage was huge for two reasons: it bumped the Patriots from the top of the BVAL standings for the first time since their 7-1 win over Clayton Valley a month ago, and it kept Deer Valley just a game back of the Eagles, locked in a three-way tie for second in the league.
"It was a great game. The kids played well and Em (Emily Allard) pitched well - she bounced back nicely from a tough outing against Brentwood," Tillson said of her team's shutout win over Heritage. "I think the weather played a factor in the Liberty game - the wind affected her movement and I think maybe she was a little tired from the Stampede over the weekend. She came out more focused against Heritage, realizing that they were ahead of us in the standings."
While Allard's outstanding pitching held the Patriots scoreless, the Wolverine offense struggled for runners against Heritage ace Mickell Escobar, but finally broke through thanks to a couple of untimely Patriot errors and a great piece of clutch hitting by Jessica Gilbertson to drive in the game's only run.
"It's a big morale boost knowing you can win the tough, close games," said Tillson. "It means a lot. It keeps the kids into it and excited, but (games like that) kill us coaches."
Clayton Valley defeated the Lady Wolverines in their only prior meeting this season, 5-2, at Deer Valley back in March, although the Lady Wolverines head into the rematch with momentum on their side.
Clayton Valley hosts the rematch on Tuesday, May 1, at 3:45 p.m. The Lady Wolverines return home Thursday when they host Carondelet; first pitch also scheduled for 3:45.