There are three games remaining in the season, and Jake McKenzie has already accomplished what he set out to do in his first year as Mountain View High softball coach.
"They've met my expectations, to tell you the truth. They were 12-12 last year and I wanted to at least match that," said McKenzie, whose Spartans entered this final week of league play with a 12-11 overall record. "Everything from here on in is frosting on the cake."
Of course, that cake will be a little sweeter if Mountain View sneaks into the Central Coast Section playoffs.
I was hoping to get to CCS, but we'll probably need to win the rest of our games," McKenzie said. "It won't be easy, but it's still attainable."
The coach made that comment prior to the two games the Spartans played against Lynbrook at the end of last week. They lost both - 4-0 Friday and 7-1 Saturday - to sink to 3-5 in the SCVAL De Anza Division.
Although Mountain View's playoff hopes have faded, it will probably take more than that to temper McKenzie's enthusiasm for this squad.
"Of all the teams I've coached, including travel ball, this is probably the best one," said McKenzie, whose 15-year coaching career includes stints at Pioneer and Del Mar highs. "Attitude plays a big part in that, and all the girls have great attitudes."
The 13-member team comprises five seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen. All of them play regularly.
McKenzie said almost every girl on the team plays travel ball in the offseason, which shows on the field.
"These girls are a heck of a bunch of girls," the coach said. "They do what they're asked, they learn real fast and have great talent."
Four Spartans are batting above .300: outfielder Alicia Olmos, third baseman Marisa Bitler, catcher/outfielder Amy Sherrill and pitcher Kendra Vanek.
Leadoff hitter Olmos, a senior, is hovering around .350, tops on the team. Junior Bitler had a team-best three hits (two doubles) in Mountain View's 19-0 shellacking of Saratoga April 24 and leads the team in RBIs. Senior Sherrill is the team's power hitter and has one of the five homers hit in the league this season.
Vanek not only has a potent bat, but a strong arm as well. The sophomore is the team's ace pitcher. The winning pitcher in all of the Spartans' victories this season, she had an ERA just below 1.30 after a 1-0 loss to Homestead April 26.
"She's awesome," McKenzie said. "She has six pitches, good control, good speed and a good attitude. Everything you want in a player, she has."
When Vanek gets a break, McKenzie uses Olmos or junior Allison Duray on the mound. The coach said Olmos "is a very good pitcher with decent speed and movement and has four pitches," while Duray "is a slower pitcher, with movement on the ball, who is good at throwing off fast-hitting teams."
McKenzie said all his pitchers are helped by the stout defense behind them.
"My defense, I think, is our No. 1 strength," he said. "The girls are awesome; they have errors, but not that many - less than one a game."
McKenzie credits the defense for several of Mountain View's wins, including a 2-0 upset of St. Francis.
What he would like to see now is more hitting, which he listed as the team's biggest weakness.Other than the rout of Saratoga, the Spartans struggled getting hits last week. They totaled just one run in the three games that followed.
Mountain View hosts Monta Vista at 4 p.m. today, then plays at Los Gatos at the same time Friday in another league game.