Along with the team’s three seniors, including Gabby Dergin, Taylor Day, and Gracie Mendoza, Pioneer High School’s varsity softball team is loaded with young underclassmen.
During pre-season varsity tryouts, head coach Linda Merrida took it upon herself to call up six freshmen to help push the team toward a Golden Empire League title. One of the freshmen who helped lead the charge early in the season was pitcher Jia Beebe.
“As a college coach, I take the best players,” Merrida said. “Just watching her during practice I knew she was good. She’s a hard worker, she communicates very well and goes about her business.
While the three seniors provide a solid foundation with Day roaming the outfield and Mendoza providing a steady defense at third, freshmen and underclassmen fill the remaining spots.
In their game against Woodland, Merrida had a freshman starting at first, second, home plate and on the mound. The first year at the plate was Ashley Gruben, who thrived in two games, allowing the pitching staff, led by Beebe, to do their job.
During the Patriots’ March 22 game against Davis early last week, Beebe took the mound.
Although she didn’t get the win, she pitched well enough to keep the Patriots in the game. A tough sixth inning that included a few errors opened the game, but the Patriots managed to come back and close, only losing 5-4.
Beebe pitched seven innings and was charged with only two earned runs. She suffered the loss but struck out four, had just one of ten hits allowed while contributing with a run and an RBI at home plate.
This match served as a warm-up for a truly dominant performance two days later.
To open Golden Empire League play, Beebe went on to win seven more innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs, while striking out 12 batters.
At plate, she was also a force again reaching base all four times with two hits, a run, a walk and a hit per pitch.
If the Patriots hope to continue winning and deepen CIF Sac Joaquin’s potential playoff, Beebe and the rest of the young team will play a huge role.