PALMDALE — Glendale High's softball team aspired all season long to reach the postseason.
The Nitros accomplished that goal, but, unfortunately, their stay didn't last long.
Battling stiff competition and stiffer winds, the Nitros fell behind early and never recovered in a 13-1 five-inning loss to host Knight on Monday afternoon in a CIF Southern Section Division III wild-card game.
"I thought that Knight was a tough draw and they proved to be just that," said first-year Nitros Coach Greg Martin of the Hawks, who improved to 19-7 and finished second in the Golden League.
While Knight moves on to Tuesday's first round to play at Grand Terrace, the Sunkist League champion, Glendale concluded its season at 16-8, having tied for fourth in the Pacific League to earn an at-large berth and appear in the postseason for the first time since 2005.
"It was really good getting into the playoffs," said Nitros freshman Sammy Fabian, who had one of her team's four hits and drove in its only run. "It was really nice showing that [at] GHS we have the ability to get to CIF."
Fabian led off the game with a single to center field, but it was hardly a foreshadowing of things to come, as her final at-bat — the final at-bat of the game in the bottom of the fifth — produced the Nitros' only run, driving in pinch-runner Esmeralda Winland on a fielder's choice. On the same play, the final out was recorded in a rundown.
But it was ultimately the Nitros' play in the field that doomed them, as they committed eight errors while battling a hard-hitting club and unrelenting wind that played havoc on flyballs and was blowing dust and dirt everywhere.
"The wind was a really big factor," Fabian said. "We needed to adjust to it, but we didn't adjust to it soon enough.
"There was a lot of wind and a lot of dust."
Knight banged out 13 hits and scored two runs in the first, three in the second and eight in the game-sealing third, which saw five Knight hits and six Glendale errors.
"They started off really good and we needed to get up to their intensity," said Fabian, who finished the year on a 22-game hitting streak, having hit safely in every game she played. "They just kept chipping away hit after hit."
University of Florida commit Sophia Reynoso went three for three with a walk, three runs and two runs batted in to key the Knight attack. Reynoso led off the bottom of the first with a walk and stole second, where the throw from the catcher hit her in the helmet and caromed deep into the outfield, allowing her to score.
It was a dubious start for the Nitros that ultimately came to a head in the third inning, when starting pitcher Jordan Lousararian was charged with eight runs, but they were all unearned. It was a stanza that started with three errors in the first two at-bats, with two coming on the second play of the inning.
"Defensively, we played a little tentative," Martin said. "The environmental issues, I think, caused us some tentativeness."
Meanwhile, Knight pitcher Sammy Reynoso went five innings, allowing one run, four hits, one walk and striking out seven.
In addition to Fabian, Lousararian, Tiffany Bartamian and Eden Marzucco had hits for the Nitros, while Alex Howard drew a walk and pitched well despite an ailing back to finish the third inning and throw a scoreless fourth.
When all was said and done, Martin believed the season was a positive one that the Nitros, who have seven players from Monday's starting lineup set to return next season, can build on.
"I'm proud they got to the playoffs," Martin said. "Now we know what it's like. The minute we got the bid, we were treating it like a learning experience."
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.