Would it be unfair to blame the team's performance on Spring Fever? Veteran Sparks softball coach Frank Avilla thought so.
After two home games in which the Railroaders lost 14-4 and 15-6 to league foe Whittell, it wouldn't seem there was much to talk about. However, Avilla delivered a fiery postgame speech to his team in full earshot of anyone who wanted to listen.
"We need to get more disciplined," Avilla said. "That speech just basically was to teach them that they need to focus. They need to understand that they're the ones who play, not the coaching staff. They need to trust in themselves and just let it fly."
The animated postgame talk came in part because Sparks fell down early. In the nightcap, Sparks found itself behind 8-0 before junior Monica Parra-Zamora finally brought in the team's first run with an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Avilla was proud of the girls' effort after that point when they put up four more runs during the fifth and sixth innings.
"I was happy with the way we ended," he said. "They continued to fight and come back."
The difference between Whittell and Sparks, according to Avilla, is discipline. He also said that when his team was able to test the Warriors, bases were earned and runs were scored.
He was talking about the fifth inning when team captain Gabby Durante belted a double to bring in the team's second run. Parra-Zamora hit her second RBI of the game to make the score 10-3 and sophomore Marissa Brogdon sacrificed herself to bring in the Railroaders' fourth score.
Another run was forced home in the sixth when Whittell's third baseman was overthrown.
The Warriors snuffed any hope of an SHS comback in the top of the seventh as they scored five times in their final frame. Two of those runs were the result of wild pitches.
In the day's first game, the Railroaders fell down 9-3 after two innings and were beaten after the fifth inning when the 10-run mercy rule came into effect, giving the Warriors a 14-4 victory.
Avilla knows what his team is capable of and he expects to see it.
"We have to be more confident in what we can do with what we have," he said. "If we can do that, we can still make a run. We're not giving up on anything and we're right there."
The Railroaders have fallen to just 2-12 and 2-4 in Mount Rose League action. Portola will come to visit in Sparks' next game, on April 20th.