In coaching it's hard not to get attached to the young minds you help to mold.
Unfortunately at the high school level, coaches must have a short memory with a year-to-year rotation of players in and out of the program.
Sheldon softball coach Mary Jo Truesdale knows this well. In the past Truesdale has had to replace standouts like Nikki Cinque, Shannon Brooks, Joanna O'Neill, Kate Albaugh and Jodi Valley, all of whom went on to play NCAA Division I softball. More recently her starting battery of Jolene Henderson and Lindsey Ziegenhirt, the most accomplished duo the Huskies' program has ever seen, graduated in the spring and is now starring at Cal.
"You go through cycles every few years," Truesdale said after the Huskies lost their opener 1-0 to Lodi on Thursday afternoon. "You play who you get.
"This is a great young group - very competitive for as young as they are."
Defensive miscues cost Sheldon, ranked No. 14 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, more than anything on Thursday as Lodi's active base runners drew three throws from catcher Meshalon Moore to try and cut them down, only to have the ball get by defenders covering the bases.
In the top of the third Moore threw to second in an attempt to catch Kortney Solis stealing, but the ball got past second baseman Dejanae Moore and into the outfield allowing Flames shortstop Brooke Ortiz to score the game's only run.
"We have some communication issues to work out," Truesdale said. "Other than those miscues it was a 0-0 ballgame."
While Sheldon is in a transition period, the Flames, with a roster of 11 upperclassmen including six seniors, believe they can win now.
"Our sights are set on Sections," said Lodi senior pitcher Tori Shepard who is bound for Pacific next year. "We (the seniors) want to go farther than we ever have before."