The Lady Monarchs 2019 season ends with the Monarchs missing the playoffs for another year but, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
By Vicente Vitela, Staff Writer
The Lady Monarchs ended their softball season with a 23-12 record and a third place finish in the Western State Conference east division and have established themselves this season as a team to lookout for in 2020.
In order to understand what this team has accomplished, we must first look back at the 2016-2017 season in which Valley College finished with a 1-30 record. Fast forward to this year and the Monarchs not only finished with a .657 winning percentage, but also ranked in the top 20 for extra base hits, on base, and slugging percentage.
Valley got off to a hot start as they won nine of their first 12 games, which was leaps and bounds ahead of where they started two years ago. During this span, they outscored their opponents 201-62 with two mercy victories to their credit.
“Nobody expected us to even be in this position,” said Head Coach Greg Venger before the team’s last game against Antelope Valley.
The lady Monarchs wave of momentum came crashing down as they lost six of their next 13 games, most notably a late-inning 5-4 collapse to College of the Canyons and an underperforming 12-4 mercy loss to Antelope Valley.
During the slump, the Monarchs had turned into the Bad News Bears as they committed 16 errors in 13 games and were outscored by their opponents 22-12 during the final three innings of those games. One kryptonite of this year’s team was its inability to close out a team during the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings.
“I would say we were pretty consistent throughout the year, other than that stretch when we lost like five out of six games,” said Coach Venger when asked about the difference between the team from the beginning of the season to the end. “This group of young women have been fun to work with because I have watch them get better both mentally and physically.”
After a 6-5 victory over Barstow College that went nine innings, the Monarchs woke up and found some of that spark they had to start the season. Valley would win nine of their next 13 games including two mercy victories, and went through a period where they scored nine runs or more during a six game stretch, all while having to play ten of those games on the road.
This unique story however does not have a happy ending, as Valley would lose their final two games to division leaders Bakersfield and Antelope Valley, which left the Lady Monarchs feeling both beaten and satisfied.
“It is a testament to my assistant coaches and the players to stay together, everything is always perfect when you are winning as a team, but as soon as you start losing it is easy to turn on each other, and that did not happen with this group,” said Venger.