HARWICH – The Cape Cod Tech softball team didn’t leave its home field with a victory Monday night, but the result in the scorebook didn’t keep the Crusaders down.
The Cape Tech players and their coach, Mike Manley, were in high spirits following a 14-13 loss to Rising Tide in Harwich.
Although the loss brings the Crusaders’ record to 0-6 on the spring, Manley and his players were thrilled with the way the team battled throughout the back-and-forth contest.
“I’m very happy. We’re getting better,” Manley said. “Most of the girls are working really hard. That’s all that we ask. Some of the girls have never played before, so you’ll see some of the mental mistakes, but they’re hanging in there.”
With just two seniors and two juniors on the team, Cape Tech has relied on a host of newcomers to be significant contributors this season. The underclassmen have answered the call, according to Ana Rolfe, the team’s junior shortstop from Marstons Mills.
“For most of them, it’s their first year and they’re absolutely loving it,” said Rolfe, who reached base four times Monday, including on an RBI triple in the second inning. “Just even learning during practice or watching the games, they have a lot of fun with it. I’ve never really seen that before, usually people get down if they’re not playing.”
It helps that the team has unselfish upperclassmen serving as leaders. The selflessness was on display against Rising Tide when Kaci Kirkland, a senior from West Yarmouth, took the pitcher’s circle to begin the game.
At times, Kirkland struggled to find the strike zone, though her spirit was still high after the game knowing that she was filling in because the team has a few pitchers battling injuries.
“I used to pitch back in grade school, but this was my first time pitching [in high school]. It was a little rough, but I think I did OK,” said Kirkland, who tossed two innings before handing the ball over to sophomore Jeanly Valerio and returning to her normal post, behind the plate at catcher.
Kirkland noted that the entire Crusaders lineup got a boost from the team’s offense, which rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to trim the Herons’ lead from 14-10 to 14-13.
“It was great,” Kirkland said. “I think it got all of our adrenaline pumping. This was probably the game that I’ve seen the most energy. I think we did exceptionally well and I’m really proud of all the girls.”
“It’s definitely a lot more fun when we’re in the game and we’re getting outs and getting hits,” the shortstop said. “Getting hits puts fire in your soul.”
Although Cape Tech didn’t complete its comeback, sophomore Laura Feliz de Jesus said Monday’s outcome had a different feeling than the team’s first five losses.
“Honestly, it counted as a victory because I think we came very far today,” said Feliz de Jesus, a West Yarmouth resident who went 4 for 5 with three RBIs. “Compared to what we’ve been doing so far, today was definitely the best we’ve done.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org.