Pitman and Turlock High softball programs had very different seasons last year.
While Turlock had a difficult time finding a groove, which led to a 2-20 season, Pitman made history.
In his first year as the head coach Joe Lewis led the Pride to their very first postseason and playoff victory after toppling West High, 5-3.
It was a bit of a record-breaking year for the Pride but they are not satisfied and coach Lewis wants more from this year’s team.
“I was happy because I had been here as an assistant and took over last year so it was great to see the girls achieve something that hadn't been done yet,” Lewis said. “We’re still striving to get better this year because we have a really young team.”
Heading into the year the Pride were looking to be a senior heavy team led by a handful of players including Regan Wolfley.
Just before the first game of the season, however, Wolfley sustained an ACL tear outside of the field which ended her high school softball career and left a huge gap in the infield for Lewis and company.
“We were looking to have mostly seniors on the infield except second, we knew that was a hole to fill from the juniors and younger girls but with Regan's injury it set us back,” Lewis said. “But the young girls have adapted well; I am real happy with how they adapted and they fit right in.”
Those youngsters are Lehua DeLeon, Holland Henson and Morgan Aguiniga.
The Pride returns Alexis Mettler, who earlier in the year signed with the University of Delaware on an athletic scholarship, and also bring back Spencer Bronken and Nicole Bailey.
Both Bailey and Bronken are expected to be huge contributors along with Kalina Malech, Hannah Martel and Cady Riley.
Lewis also did something different in the offseason: made his team set goals for the year—and they did, big goals.
“I had the girls fill out a paper with goals set individually and as a team and we will see where we are midway through the season and at the end to see if they could accomplish the goals,” he said. “One was to win CCC, only done once before so it’s what we’re striving for because every team is so tough in league, but if were on I think we will be hard to beat.”
On the other side of town, Turlock is looking very different than they did a year ago.
With only one senior on this year’s team, captain Lindsey Holguin, and the emergence of now juniors Mariah Gonzalez and Madison Mayol, the Bulldogs of Turlock are seeking an improved season.
Luckily for the Bulldogs, they welcome six new fresh faces to the team. After the first week of play, three freshmen and three sophomores were on the starting varsity roster for coach Jill Ogden.
“We’re young but we are in good shape and have that knowledge and have some excellent players this year,” said Ogden. “These kids seem to know the game really well.”
To finish atop the ultra-competitive CCC it will take some patience — and wins.
Although the league experience is not there all the newcomers have played travel ball in the past.
“We have never had three freshmen on varsity, let alone start from the get-go,” Ogden said. “From a coaching standpoint, we want to see the kids compete and have an opportunity to be successful this year. We have had lopsided games in past, but now we're giving a team a run for their money early on.”