All-Empire Small School Softball: Cloverdale’s Robinson a strong leader on and off the field

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cloverdale senior Morgan Robinson (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

Cloverdale senior Morgan Robinson (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

The Cloverdale softball girls didn’t do it for the glory, nor for the college recruiters. They did it for the food.

“We had an expression we used: ‘Do it for the food,’” said Morgan Robinson, the Eagles’ senior first baseman. “We said we’d get sandwiches if we win, or pizza, or we’d have s’mores night. I think we were so successful because we did a lot of team bonding.”

“Do it for the food,” of course, was merely code for “do it for the camaraderie.” The Cloverdale girls were a tight-knit group, and it showed along the way to an impressive 20-4 season, which included a 13-1 mark in the NCL I. Robinson was at the heart of the Eagles’ cohesiveness, and their winning ways.

“She’s just a great kid,” coach Margaret Fitzgerald said. “She’s been our captain for two years. She’s the type of kid who got parties together, had movie nights, bonfire nights. That’s the leadership. We had four freshmen on the team, and all four cried when she was graduating. She’s the type of kid who brings people in.”

Oh, and Robinson can play some ball, too, the main reason she is our Small School Player of the Year.

The slap-hitting leadoff batter posted an even .500 batting average in 2013, driving in 17 runs. She was constantly in scoring position, it seemed, as she legged out seven triples and crossed the plate 40 times.

“She’s a true lefty,” Fitzgerald said. “She can power-hit, slap, go to opposite field, drag — everything.”

At first base, Robinson made one error the entire season.

And showing the mark of a true leader, Robinson had some of her best games when the Eagles needed her most. In a big preseason showdown against St. Vincent, she went 4 for 4 with three triples and four RBIs. In the first game against Clear Lake, Cloverdale’s toughest league foe, she was 3 for 4. And in the Eagles’ only North Coast Section Division 4 playoff game, Robinson was 2 for 4 with yet another triple.

Alas, that game ended as a 2-1 upset loss to Moreau Catholic that sent Cloverdale to an early playoff exit and dashed its title dreams. It was a sour ending to an otherwise great season.

Part of what made playing softball fun for Robinson was lining up next to her twin sister, Brooke, for about as long as she can remember. Brooke Robinson followed Morgan in the batting order this year, and was just to her right on defense, at second base. They, along with catcher Kim Mitchell, were the Eagles’ only seniors this season on a roster than included those four freshmen.

“Our seniors — Brooke, Kim and I — decided to make it fun and try to motivate them,” Morgan Robinson said. “We’d go pick up equipment, but we’d ask them to help, instead of just bossing them around.”

In January, Robinson took a trip to visit the University of Great Falls in Montana. It coincided with the worst storm there in seven years — which probably equaled the worst storm in Sonoma County in 700 years. It didn’t dissuade Robinson. She will play softball for Great Falls next year.

The Argonauts have a returning senior first baseman, so they have asked Robinson to shift to the outfield for at least a year. Aware of this development, she occasionally took fly balls with the rest of the Cloverdale outfielders in practice. That’s Robinson, always one step ahead.

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.

ALL-EMPIRE SMALL-SCHOOL SOFTBALL

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Morgan Robinson, 1B, Cloverdale, Sr.

FIRST TEAM
Ursyla Baumgarten, SS, St. Vincent, Jr.
Natya Cauckwell, P/1B, Laytonville, Sr.
Teanne Edens, P, Cloverdale, Fr.
Shelbie Harris, P, Lower Lake, So.
Danielle Martin, C, Calistoga, Jr.
Jazmin Orozco, SS, Cloverdale, Jr.
Morgan Psalmonds, 3B, Clear Lake, Sr.
Kelcie Reynolds, C, Clear Lake, Jr.
Morgan Selmi, 2B, St. Vincent, Sr.

SECOND TEAM
Maria Castaldo, Inf., Middletown, Sr.
Selena Ledesma, SS, Lower Lake, Sr.
Monica Lemley, OF, Cloverdale, So.
Brooke Robinson, 2B, Cloverdale, Sr.
Jordyn Turner, Util., Cloverdale, Fr.
Alexis Torres, OF/1B, St. Vincent, So.
Hannah Upton, 3B, St. Vincent, Sr.
Lily Waggoner, OF, Calistoga, Jr.
Rachel Wingler, P, Clear Lake, Fr.

THIRD TEAM
Aliza Atkins, SS, Clear Lake, So.
Mady Braught, 1B, Laytonville, Sr.
Krystal Castillo, SS/3B, Calistoga, Jr.
Mirla Gaxiola, Util., Anderson Valley, Sr.
Erin Hale, P, Geyserville, Jr.
Cheyanne Horvath, 3B, Middletown, Sr.
Christa Nygard, 2B/P, Tomales, Sr.
Courtney Nygard, Inf., Tomales, Sr.
Hannah Sarlatte, P, St. Vincent, So.

COACH OF THE YEAR
Don Jensen, St. Vincent

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