Pitcher Shelly Tait led the Dons out of a five-game losing slump with a scorching hot bat and a blazing fastball, winning seven of the eight games in SAC Softball’s longest winning streak since 2006.
Tait hit .538 during the Dons recent eight-game run. She drove in 10 runs, scored nine runs, hit four home runs, and capped off her performance by pitching 46 and one-third of the 56 innings during that span.
“I’ve had some shoulder and back problems, so throwing all those innings took a lot out of me but it was fun and well worth it,” Tait said.
She struck out 56 batters while allowing only eight earned runs on 30 hits.
“The pitch calling improved. Changing speeds is key for my success,” Tait said.
“A lot of the credit has to go to Kristen (Hooper). She is the best catcher I’ve ever thrown to.” Her teammates helped her with their bats. The Dons posted a team batting average of .331, scoring 49 runs and holding opponents to 17.
“Our mindset changed, and we went into attack mode. We started swinging earlier in counts instead of waiting for the pitcher’s pitch,” Co-Head Coach Jessica Rapoza said.
An April 1 win over Orange Coast College started the streak.
The following four wins took place over the next two days. The Dons swept the Ventura College Spring Tournament, going 4-0.
“The Ventura Tournament was a real confidence-booster. It helped define everyone’s role,” Rapoza said.
Tait started all four games in the tournament, tossing back-to-back complete games April 2.
“I prefer throwing back-to-back games,” Tait said. “I can get into a rhythm.”
Three of the eight wins were against Orange Empire Conference teams. The Dons are now fifth in the conference with a record of 8-11, 23-14 overall.
The streak ended April 13 when the Dons lost 4-3 at Riverside Community College. As of Thursday, the Dons are 9-3 in April, with three losses coming in its last four games.
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