There’s a common saying that softball state championships aren’t won on June 1 — the day of the state title game.

Titles are taken in December, January, July and August — the off-season months when plugging away in the batting cage and playing summer ball in the hot sun against selected opposition.

The Aloha softball team accomplished the greater part of its season goals and furled up 17 wins before losing to Roseburg, 7-5, on the road in the second round of the postseason. They shared the Metro League championship with Westview. The Warriors advanced to the second round of the playoffs as well, with only two seniors. Their season was nothing to disapprove of.

Yet, when Steve Reynolds glanced around at all the talent on his team with Kiana Wood, Michelle Silva, Katie Newton and Shelby Bradley, among others, the Warrior head coach couldn’t help but think what might have been. by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ  - Aloha Warriors Katie Buchannan smiles towards the Warriors dugout after scoring a run  against Southridge Skyhawks at Southridge High School.

Looking back, the Warrior skipper said Wood — the 2013 Metro pitcher of the year — and Michele Silva — the Metro player of the year — were the only regulars working out during the off-season. In the long run, that hurt Aloha both during league play when winnable games got away and in the playoffs.

Reynolds was frank in saying the amount of work Aloha put in before the season, directly correlated to how far the team advanced in the playoffs.

“You can’t have only two of them working through the winter. You have to have your whole team dedicated to getting better. A lot of winter work, and they’ll come out a lot better.”

“They realized they had to play ball and changed it around,” said Reynolds. “Going into the playoffs, I felt pretty good about the team.”

The torturing defeat will fire up the core of his squad, Reynolds believes. A season ending prematurely can work wonders for a team in terms of incitement, finding that spark that might not have come about until after the Roseburg defeat.

A majority of Aloha’s players who didn’t participate in ASA softball last season are playing this summer. Reynolds would prefer his team take hacks in the batting cage and frequent the weight room as well, to prepare for the rigors of the Metro League. Most will play 30 to 40 games and keep their skill sets sharp.

“Motivation can be contagious and help the whole team,” said Reynolds.

Silva, Bradley, Katie Buchanan, Shelby Ratcliffe, Alexa Bailey, Ali Locke and freshman Mackenzie Siefert all received all-Metro honors. They’ll all return next season looking to avenge their post-season letdown.

Courtney Coombs is probably the leading candidate to take over for Kiana Wood in the circle next season, though Reynolds hasn’t ruled out using a pitcher-by-committee approach. Taylor Clark and Megan O’Reilly will also compete for the starting job.

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