It was not the ending that they’d hoped for, not at all.

After hanging tough in the district race most of the year, the Lady Cougars lost their last three conference games heading into the playoffs. Once there, North could not get the bats going with much success, dropping a pair to San Benito in bi-district softball acion over the weekend to finish the 2010 season 18-11.

The Lady Greyhounds (21-4) won Game One 5-0 at North Friday and followed that up with a 5-1 triumph Saturday at home, sending the Lady Coogs home for the season. Lack of timely hitting and inability to drive in runs were the key culprits.

In Game One, the Lady Coogs were determined to put a stop to their hitting woes, as the mantra Friday night at home was “top hand over, get down on the ball.”

But against senior San Benito ace JoAnn Herrera, it just didn’t work very well in a 5-0 loss, with loads of pop-ups and few line drives on a sizzling spring evening. North managed just three hits and again failed to produce in the clutch, getting two runners aboard in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings without scoring a run.

The killer was a rare triple play turned in the fourth with North down 4-0. Claire Garcia hit one in the gap with two on and no outs, but center fielder Jaynee Morales raced over and made the grab, firing to second for the second out and watching as the next throw erased Desiree Dominguez at first.

Meanwhile, Iliana Hinojosa had control trouble in the first two frames, walking the leadoff batter and yielding two runs in each. In the first, after freshman Vanessa Salazar alertly gunned a runner at home, Lady ‘Hound catcher Ruby Castillo turned on a fastball and shot a double to left field for a 2-0 lead.

The Lady Greyhounds got just five hits off Hinojosa but four came in their first two at-bats. In the second, with one out and two on, Morales singled to load the bases and then Hinojosa walked in a run. After an RBI groundout, Garcia assisted on the third out after a bouncer to short, but it was 4-0, quick.

North tried to rally late, getting two aboard in the fifth, but Laura Torres popped foul to the catcher for out No. 3. An inning later, Salazar (2 for 3) doubled with one down and Herrera walked Hinojosa intentionally for the second time in the game. After Garcia bounced to the mound to put runners on second and third, Nikki Garza fanned on a pitch up in the zone to end the last good threat; North went 1-2-3 in the seventh and was down a game against the District 32-5A runner-up.

San Benito made a number of nice catches in the outfield, and was more alert all night. On a pop in front of the plate in the second, Castillo saw the ball pop out of her mitt but third baseman Jackie Garcia was there to field the carom for the out, a la Pete Rose in the 1980 World Series. North made three errors and fell victim to Herrera’s seventh shutout of the year.