Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Sarah Fukushima Watch: 13 Home Runs and counting

She’s stands only about five-foot, six-inches tall. But, when she swings a softball bat you swear you can feel the breeze coming off the aluminum.

And, when Sarah Fukushima makes contact you hear it. It’s that thud that is different, plus the result is evident. It goes a long way and in a hurry.

She is softball’s current-day equivalent to baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. When the Puck hit the ball it flew off his bat. That’s what it is like when Sarah strikes a pitch.

Fukushima has hit four homers in Sheldon High School’s last two games, both quality opponents Davis and Oak Ridge. And, with the pair of dingers Friday she’s tied the school record of 13 in a single season set in 2011 by another girl who had a lively bat, Danielle Henderson.

Add to the power numbers, included in that a 1.333 slugging percentage, a .524 batting average and 39 RBIs in Sheldon’s 21 games. What is a bit surprising to most observers is that even with runners on base, Fukushima continues to be pitched to.

“I’m not surprise,” Fukushima claimed. “I would actually try to go for me. I would try anything because anything can happen in a game.”

Her humility not withstanding, the results have been torturous to the rest of Delta League. Sheldon is now 9-0 in league action and 19-2 overall. The only local club they’ve lost to was Del Campo, a 6-5 defeat on March 22. 
The stern look of Sarah Fukushima ....

quickly turns to smiles circling the bases 13 times in Sheldon's 21 games this season.

The successes of Fukushima is rubbing off on her teammates. The Huskies are batting .405 as a club and Fukushima thinks the real reason is what was developed in the off-season away from Mary Jo Truesdale Field.

“I think we’re more as a family,” she reasoned. “We’re more like a family, focused, we’re on the right track and I think that’s just bleeding into the games.”

It helps, too, that Fukushima has great hitters in front of her in the Fines sisters, leadoff batter Maci and second-place batter Jordan, both hitting over .450. And if the opposing coach wants to try to pitch around Fukushima there’s sophomore clean-up batter Shea Moreno. She’s having quite a year batting .455 with a pair of home runs, three triples and four doubles. 
Shea Moreno

“Personally, I stepped it up mentally,” Moreno said. “Last year I struggled offensively but held it down defensively. But, this year I took a different mentality. I got this ‘I’m good’ mentality so it helps me in the batters’ box, and I’ve taken the approach, ‘This pitcher’s not going to beat me today and if she does she’s not going to do it on the same pitch.’”

At this rate, averaging almost nine runs a game along with quality pitching from freshmen Grace Owen and Taliyah Miles, the Huskies could easily run the table all the way to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship, which would be its second consecutive banner.

“I think our goals are the gray hats, which are the Section (championship) hats,” Fukushima said. “Our main goal is to get there and to win it all.”

“Yes, it’s pretty realistic as long as we keep up mentalities and our work ethics we’re going to be okay,” Moreno said.

An interesting game still on the Huskies’ schedule is their regular season finale on May 13. They’ll host the two-time defending Division II champion Benicia in a non-league contest.

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