By Tom Price jr.
The hat symbolizes the winning tradition of Lindsay High School softball. Stitched into the back of coach John Hall's cap are the words 'Lady Card's expect to win.''
And they did expect to win this year, but with four returning starters absent from the team early in the season expectations have dropped.
Amanda Serta, two time team Most Valuable Player, Raquel Chairez arguably the teams best hitter, Torri Gonzalez a leader in the outfield and Vanessa Alverado the starting right fielder are all gone from the team for various reasons.
"Let's not focus on what we don't have and look at what we do have," Hall said. "What I have been forced to do is take kids that are competitors from the JV level and bring them up here."
The team has two wins and five losses. Currently they are riding a four game losing streak in which they have been outscored 38-8.
Only three returning vastity players, Nikki Salinas, Rebecca Dial and Amanda Estrada take the field for the Cardinals and they have seen their duties develop into one of leader and coach.
"It has made this season a challenge," Salinas said. "We have to show everything we got every time we play and we have to help each other out."
The struggles of the team were never more apparent than in their most recent East Sequoia League game against Dinuba. The Cardinals managed just three hits and four base runners the entire game and their pitching allowed 10 runs on 12 hits and two errors in the 10-0 loss.
But even after the loss the team was upbeat at a mid-afternoon practice on Thursday.
"After losing like that we are ready to pick it up," sophomore pitcher Ana Jauregui said. "I think we need to bond more and I see that we are starting to do that, it is just taking time."
Time is one thing the Cardinals are running out of as they are close to wrapping up the first round of the three round ESL season.
"We aren't going to be satisfied with getting beat, trust me we will be better," Hall said. "I am a firm believer that it is OK to lose as long as you don't accept it and learn from it."
If the Cardinals have learned anything from their losses, perhaps they might persuade Hall to dust of the cap and start expecting to win.