Pre-season is officially over for the softball teams of Delhi, Denair, Turlock Christian, and Hilmar High. Now, with the hunt for league standings and post-season berths underway, the various lady players from around the area are doing their best to excel under their different sets of circumstances.
For Delhi High, those circumstances are good ones. With nine players returning with varsity experience, the Hawks are looking to improve on last season’s third place finish in the Southern Athletic League. Alicia Knight, Briana Lopez, and Alyssa Stockton are back on the hill for Delhi after starting last year as freshmen. Tara Lovejoy and Selene Lopez are also back, patrolling the outfield and providing much needed leadership to newcomers like pitcher Diamond Orozco, Rocio Aguilar, and Roxana Pimentel.
“This is the best group, as far as getting along and motivating each other, that I’ve had,” Delhi’s head coach Tami Tela said. “We’re strong going into league; we just need to stay healthy.”
Unlike the Hawks, Denair and TC enter SAL play with inexperienced rosters.
The Coyotes return only one varsity player from last season—pitcher Samantha Watts. With one senior and three juniors on the squad, Denair’s team is mostly comprised of underclassmen. Savanah Dixon, Adelyn Dunn, and Katie Oliver have emerged as solid new editions, however, with Oliver being groomed to join Watts on the mound.
“She’s a leader and she’s going to come around like spit fire,” Denair’s first year head coach Cindy Turner said.
“We are a very, very young team but they all want to give 110 percent, which is one of the things I love about them; they’re always willing to learn,” she added. “They give, give, give and offer to stay longer at practice. They want to get better.”
TC's roster boasts more experienced players than Denair, but it still has its fair share of first time players.
Monique McMeechan, Anna Larson, Madison Yagi, and Megan Jones return from last season’s team and are joined by a host of underclassmen which include pitcher Cassie Balswick, Aimee Jones, Abbie Morelli, Mikayla Yagi, Megan Mark, and Kayleen Baskin.
“A lot of these freshmen have never played any softball before but they’re really good athletes and they’re picking it up fast,” TC’s first year head coach Bret Balswick said. “The future is really bright for this group of girls.”
With a handful of wins in the books, the Eagles have already improved on their winless season from a year ago.
In the Trans Valley League, Hilmar stands as one of the youngest teams with only a couple of seniors on the roster. Jessica Cardoso is back to fulfill her role as ace ‘Jacket on the mound as is her catcher Valerie Ewing and third baseman Jazzlyn Ayala. Newcomer Marta Mitchell will accompany Cardosa from the hill while the sisters Danielle and Sara Couchman cover outfield and second base duties, respectively.
“We’re still working on chemistry,” Hilmar’s first year head coach Taylor Hiyama said. “We’re a young team and we’re trying to play as a team and work out the kinks. We have potential, we’re just smoothing out the rough edges.”