GLENDALE — The Hoover High softball team is aware that it will face tough competition once Pacific League play begins in April and opponents like Crescenta Valley High, Burbank and Burroughs line up against the Tornadoes.
Until league starts, the Tornadoes will take advantage of teams that are just as young and inexperienced as they are.
Hoover defeated the Comets, 14-1, after it scored half of its runs on based-loaded walks, wild pitches and passed balls on an easy afternoon that ended after the top of the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.
“This is a great confidence boost to start off the season this way,” said Hoover catcher Deana Cruz, one of 11 Tornadoes who is in her first season on the varsity level. “This makes us feel good.”
The Tornadoes (4-0) notched a pair of wins against Los Angeles International on March 15 in a doubleheader, outscoring their nonleague foe, 29-11, in the process. They followed those wins with a 16-0 triumph against Sotomayor on March 19.
“We’re trying to find some teams that we could compete with,” Tornadoes Coach Rich Henning said. “The preseason is just finding your niche, trying to minimize your mistakes, getting better one game at a time and getting ready for league. So far, I’m pleased with the direction that we’re going.”
Henning was pleased with Tuesday’s effort, too, especially with the play of his new varsity players.
Cruz, Diana Ascencio and Alex Mendoza, all juniors, scored two runs apiece and combined for five runs batted in. Captain Anjel Bonilla also scored twice, both times after getting hit by a pitch.
Eight of the nine Tornadoes starters scored a run, with freshman pitcher Leslie Franco adding two runs scored and two runs batted in. While in the circle, Franco struck out eight, walked two and allowed three hits on 75 pitches, 48 for strikes.
Jenesy Gonzalez, Jackie Villasenor, Briana Pineda and Evie Unger each scored once.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, which has been outscored, 132-21, this season, issued 10 walks, and Hoover scored after eight of those free passes. The Tornadoes, who have outscored their opponents, 59-10, this season, scored three runs on bases-loaded walks in the fourth inning.
“We took advantage of their mistakes,” Gonzalez said. “We’re pulling together, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
Henning has liked how his team has worked this season.
“This is basically a brand-new team,” he said. “We have a bunch of scrappers. They are clawing for playing time and I like that. If we put the ball in play on offense and play tough defensively, we may surprise some people. It’s all about getting better.”