The Calistoga High softball team has already played its last game of the season.
On Monday, the program decided to end its season early due to a low turnout of players this year. At full strength, the Wildcats boasted a roster of nine players. But many have jobs and other commitments outside of sports, making it difficult to even get a full roster at practices.
“We had a hard time getting girls to come out to begin with, and we had some kids that got jobs and a few that didn’t make grades, so we’re not able to get enough out there to make it work,” said Calistoga High Co-Athletic Director Eric Heitz on Monday. “We tried and tried but it’s just not happening. It’s frustrating.”
Heitz notified league officials on Monday of the program’s decision.
Second-year head coach T’Anne Butcher said Monday that the low turnout was due to a combination of factors, like players getting jobs, focusing on academics, and burnout from other sports.
The softball team had also been waiting on girls from the basketball team to join, but had to wait several weeks for the Wildcats to finish a deep postseason run.
On top of that, five of the nine girls on the team were juniors and wanted to focus more on academics as crucial college deadlines approach.
“It’s not really a specific thing. It’s an accumulation of things from the get-go,” Butcher said.
The Wildcats were slated to play in the new North Central League II this season, a year removed from a stellar 13-3 season in which the Wildcats went 10-2 in the NCL III and outscored opponents 225-61 before falling in the first round of the CIF North Coast Section Div. 6 playoffs. That team had a roster of 19 players at full strength.
With less than half of last year’s turnout, the Wildcats’ venture into the NCL II will have to wait.
Heitz and Butcher both hope to get the program back on its feet next season.
“I was hoping it would work for this year but it’s tough to make that happen when you have so few seniors, and those volleyball and basketball girls — some of them were a little burnt out and needed to do something different, but I don’t know if that was the main difference. We have five sports for spring right now and the girls get spread thin that way.”
Added Butcher, “Hopefully it won’t fall by the wayside and we can get it reenergized next year.”
The Wildcats were off to an 0-2 start this season and had been outscored 27-5 in those two games.