By Ryan Butler

Historically among the best programs in the state, the East Bay varsity softball team has had an atypically up-and-down 2013 season. But with several injured players expected to return in the late stretches of the season, the Indians are confident they can return to form in the most important games of the season.

Since winning the 2010 State Championship, the Indians have posted several season records around .500. This year, they began 10-11, dropping below .500 after a loss at Plant City on Mar 28. That came a few days after a tough loss to rival Riverview which eliminated the Indians from a chance at the number-one  seed for the upcoming 7A-8 District tournament. The back-to-back losses to the top two teams in the district means the Indians will finish third out of six teams.

“I don’t know what team’s going to show up,” said head coach, Glenn Rodriquez. “That’s what drives me crazy.”

Rodriquez said that hangover from the loss to the Sharks, where the Indians blew a 2-0 lead in the seventh, carried over the Plant City game. From batting practice to the final out, he said the team didn’t play up to its potential.

However, a healthy roster is improving the Indians’ hopes heading into the postseason. After beginning the season without five injured starters, including the entire outfield, the Indians are as healthy as they’ve been all year. Along with the starters who stepped up earlier, the team is hoping for more consistent offensive production in order to compete with the top teams in the playoffs.

“It’s definitely going to help us when we get our players in the right position,” Rodriquez said.

Pitching, and starting pitcher Taylor Baker in particular, will also play a pivotal role for the Indians down the stretch. In only her third year playing organized softball, Baker is among the county leaders in strikeouts. Like the team’s offense, Baker is focusing on consistency entering the post-season.

With Baker and a healthy offense playing at its full potential, the Indians have the talent to compete with anyone in the district. Only post-season play will tell if they can make another deep run in the playoffs.

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