Friday, April 01, 2016

Bombs Away! Fukishima Launches Another One In 6-1 Win

Sheldon was leading in its Delta League softball game against Franklin Friday, 1-0. It was the fourth inning and it was a tight ball game. Up to bat comes the Huskies' left fielder, Sarah Fukishima. Wildcat pitcher Taylor Keinath worked the count to 3-2 on Fukishima and she tried to come in with some high heat. The ball was out of the strike zone, about shoulder height. She swung at it anyway.

"I think because she didn't have as much movement, as much as I've seen from other pitchers, I thought I could get ahold of the ball, which I did," Fukishima described.
Sarah Fukishima

It looked like a high pop-up to left field, but like so many balls Fukishima's hit this year, there was some lift added to the projectile. It kept climbing and climbing. A couple seconds later the yellow ball plopped to the ground on the other side of the fence, almost hitting the scoreboard on the way down.

Fukishima just golfed out of Mary Jo Truesdale Field her fifth home run of the still-young softball season. As she rounded second base she flashed a big smile to Coach Truesdale, coaching in the third base box. The Huskies had home plate circled, allowing just enough room for Fukishima to place a foot on the plate, all the while going into their very rehearsed chant for Fukishima (or any teammate who "Dials 8" on a ball).

Fukishima gets numerous pats on her batting helmet and the girls have a couple more words, all in unison. They giggle and walk back to the dugout. Giggling is commonplace this season for Sheldon, raising their record Friday to 7-2 after a 6-1 win over the Wildcats.

What is happening in front of their eyes could be one of the best offensive seasons in their school history. Not only has Fukishima hit five dingers in a season that is barely ten games along, but she's almost hitting .600 to go with 16 RBI's in nine games. And, not against middle school pitching either.

Like any batter hitting the ball as well as Fukishima will tell you, they are just seeing the ball really well and they are in a groove.

"I think I am more focused on getting my hands through the ball, instead of up which I think is helping me," the Cal State - East Bay commit said.

She claims she's not going to the plate this season trying to hit it out every at bat.

"I don't think it's all about hitting home runs, it's what is best for the team like base hits, like line drives and that is what we can do better and I think we're going to work on it more," Fukishima said.

Better is always what any team wants to get, however, Sheldon is doing quite well in this, the fourth week of the season. They are batting .390 as a team.

Now that the Delta League season is underway, and the Huskies have seven games in the coming week, anyone scouting this club will know to try to avoid throwing a pitch over the plate to Fukishima, or her teammate Jordan Fines, who is hitting at a .429 clip, or Fines' sister, Maci, hitting .467 or how about Shea Moreno who is blazing along a .538 average with a pair of homers.
Sheldon's Jordan Fines

"I know they'll probably do that, but it is my intention to hit it where it is pitched," Fukishima said.

"She hits the ball really hard," Truesdale observed. "She hits base hits as well as home runs and sees the ball just so well. She can put the ball down, hit it to the right, hit the long ball, whatever we need her to do."

Truesdale says Fukishima has come along since her freshman year to where she is now one of the pre-eminent hitters in high school softball.

"She has put in the time and has really come along to where she is now," Truesdale said.

In an age where the bats have come around since the pitching plate was moved back three feet about five years ago, it still is important to have strong throwers in the circle and this year Truesdale has relied on freshman Grace Owen and junior Taliyah Miles. Owen in five games and two starts has a 0.00 ERA. Miles is 5-2 with a 2.49 ERA in nine games pitched and seven starts.

Sheldon has a pair of Delta League games, Monday with St. Francis and Wednesday at Davis, then competes in the Livermore Stampede starting Thursday.

Sanchez See Positives With Wildcat Softball

Franklin's long-time coach Jill Sanchez could have hung her head or pouted a little in losing the Friday contest at Sheldon, but she was rather upbeat.

"We've only had a few games so far, we're still progressing and we're still learning," she said.

Franklin pitcher Taylor Keinath
Franklin right now has a   record, but they had several rainouts the first week or so of the season and they've been making most of those games up the past week.

"There's always room for improvement," Sanchez said. "After today we need to work on our mental game as we are baserunning. I felt as though we ran ourselves out of two, maybe three innings."

The Wildcats are putting the bat on the ball.

"We are swinging the bat daily, numerous times," Sanchez said.

There are only 12 girls on the varsity squad this year, but she likes that.

"They play multiple positions, so I feel like I can flip or flop where we are strong," Sanchez explained. "We have a great lineup, so I am very confident we will be (in the playoffs) this year."

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