Cal State Stanislaus softball coach Jan Schefkowitz contorted her face into a smirk after being asked about last season’s letdown.
“I’m glad it’s over,” she said, laughing.
It’s been almost a year now since the Warriors struggled to an unspectacular season, finishing with a .270 winning percentage during a campaign that was filled with one-run, two-run heartbreakers and no postseason berths.
So now, they have forgotten about what happened in 2010 and are focused on this season. The Warriors are looking to start the rebounding process with this weekend’s annual Mizunio Best of the West Invitational at Pedretti Park, with the first game starting today at 11 a.m. against Cal State San Marcos.
And Stanislaus is coming back with many new faces.
This season’s squad features just two seniors in catcher Missy Corral and outfielder Veronica Luna and one junior in Brittany Balanesi, while the rest of the team is made up of 13 underclassmen, including seven freshman and six sophomores. Schefkowitz, who’s in her 19th season as the head coach, is excited about this new bunch.
“I think having a new team is energizing,” Schefkowitz said. “Every team has a pace to it. Every team has a personality. Young teams, maybe, you have to go a little slower in the beginning. But once they get it, they have that energy.”
The veteran coach got a good look at what she has on Wednesday afternoon, when the Warriors faced Academy of Art in the season opener. Though her team lost 2-1, she liked what she saw and noted that her team will need some time.
In explaining her team’s season opening loss, Schefkowitz said, “I think it was that we were new and you and we weren’t used to working with each other in pressured kind of environment.”
“We all know there’s talent on the field,” said Balanesi, who shares co-captain duties with Corral, “but with us being young, it kinda needs extra time to get the camaraderie together. It’ll take a while to catch up.”
Sophomore Brittani Weatherford returns as the top hurler after finishing last season with a 7-19 record, a 4.54 ERA and 109 strikeouts. And then there’s shortstop Sarah Locarnini, who led the Warriors at the plate with a .395 batting average, the second-best average in school history. The other returners are infielder Nicole Jenkins and outfielder Kiley Mendez.
In other words, Schefkowitz will look to her team’s many new faces for production.
Meanwhile, the returning players will keep their focus on this season.
“We don’t like to look back on what happened last year,” said Corral, the team’s catcher. “Things went not the way we planned. This is a rebuilding year. We have all strong players. You can see the talent that we have. (Wednesday’s game) was a stepping stone from what we can build from.”
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