Softball: Monarchs finish second in Valley

Exeter wins two road playoff games before falling in Valley Championship to Fowler

EXETER – The Monarchs put the Central Valley on notice with a stellar playoff run, but fell just short of their second Valley championship win in four years after losing 1-0 to the Fowler Redcats.

The No. 1 seeded Redcats coasted through the season with just one loss in 24 games, and breezed through the Valley playoffs. Meanwhile the Monarchs, the No. 6 seed, only had one home playoff game. From there, they went on the road and found their stride. They knocked off the No. 3 seed Taft 7-5 in the quarterfinal and the No. 2 seed Chowchilla 6-2 in the semifinal.

In the Valley title game, the Monarchs gave Fowler their closest game of the season. Senior Brooklyn Blackmon was arguably the toughest arm they’ve seen as she held them to their lowest point total of the season. She threw nine strikeouts and only gave up three hits, but one was a home run to the opposing pitcher, junior Kamerynn Cordova in the third inning.

“We knew we were going to make it to this game and we knew that once we got here, it was going to be a tough fight,” head coach Karen Zeibak said. “They have been battling this whole season and battled today, but it was just a matter of one run.”

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Exeter pitcher Brooklyn Blackmon threw nine strikeouts but gave up a lone home run against Fowler.Photo by Jermaine Johnson II

It’s the end of an era for the team’s trio of seniors that have played on varsity during all four years of their high school career: Blackmon, Allison Paregien, and Kate Coulter. They began and ended their career in the Valley title game as they were freshmen starters on the 2018 championship squad that defeated Coalinga 6-0. According to Zeibak, their leadership was one of the biggest strengths of the team this year.

“Going into freshman year and going into Valley, I just remember being so excited….It just means so much to me that I got to experience it as a senior too,” Paregien said.

Although she struggled at the plate like the rest of the team, Paregien left her mark on the Valley title game with two incredible catches while playing center field. She’ll be off to play Division I softball next year at Bradley University, but she is confident the Monarch softball program will continue to excel and make deep runs in the Valley playoffs.

“This [loss] leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and so I’m sure it leaves a bitter taste in theirs as well,” Paregien said. “They’re going to keep fighting and work their way back here soon.”

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