The break from high school softball season in 2020 was disappointing to everyone, but it was especially frustrating for Yucaipa senior pitcher Esperanza Coe.
Coe had a season to remember when things suddenly stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She had added 10 pitching wins and seven home runs, and both numbers tied Coe for the best of the state according to the MaxPreps.com database.
Coe’s performance on the field helped the Thunderbirds make a 13-3 start, and Yucaipa was the No. 1 team in the final Division 2 ranking released by the CIF Southern Section in early March.
“I wanted to go out with a blast,” said Coe, who signed with Alabama A&M. “I did what I intended, but what I really wanted was to help our team win everything. It’s just disappointing that we haven’t been able to finish what we started. ”
Coe had a sophomore breakout season in 2018, pitched 20-5 in the pitching circle and also batted .406 with nine homeruns and 43 runs batted in. Coe fought off injuries as a junior, but she bounced back and was determined to get that groove back.
“Espy came ready to play this season,” said T-Birds coach Stephanie Landavazo. “We could see it all the way back in August when we started. She is extremely competitive which is why we all saw the best version of Espy this season. ”
Coe opened her senior season by casting Yucaipa 10-3 victory over Santiago at the Stu Penter Classic in Corona. It was a remarkable victory, Coe said, because the Thunderbirds had battled Santiago over the past few seasons. Santiago avenged that result a week later, but Coe hit a huge homerun in that loss.
Yucaipa then set a 5-0 record on the SoCal’s Finest Invitational, hosted by Norco in February, where Coe delivered two of her most memorable performances. The T-Birds opened the event with Division 1 runner-up in 2019, Great Oak, and Coe closed Wolfpack’s stacked line-up in the 1-0 win. Coe threw a three-hit (all singles), walked and struckout eight. Two days later, Coe also won Victory over Mater Dei.
“She has a prisoner-free attitude when she is there,” said Landavazo.
The season was officially canceled a few weeks after Yucaipa returned from his annual trip to the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Arizona.
“It was hard to hear the news and we all cried a little bit,” Coe recalled. “It took a few days for the season to end.”
Before the season, Coe went 10-3 in the circle with a 2.61 ERA and 75 strikeouts. At plate, she had a .542 average to go with those seven home runs and a team-best 21 runs batted in.
Coe graduates on Thursday with her fellow Yucaipa seniors, and she remains hopeful that her travel ball team (OC Batbusters-Stith) will be able to get back on the diamond in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Coe has resumed pitching and hitting classes in an effort to prepare for her college career with Alabama A&M.
“We all want the same thing, and that’s to play there again,” said Coe.