Turlock and Pitman softball teams are ready to battle for the top spot in the Central California Athletic League this season, as well as playoff berths.
“We have a balanced team this year…We can hit and have good pitching,” said Pitman head coach Joe Lewis. “I feel confident going into the year with the experience we have now.”
“We have quite a few returners. We have a lot of depth, we don’t have an overpowering pitcher, but we have four pitchers that complement each other really well with different styles, speeds and strengths. So, we are feeling really confident with how the team looks,” said THS head coach Jill Ogden.
Last year, Turlock boasted future NCAA Division-I pitcher Shelby Frutoz and the Bulldogs earned a playoff berth in the Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs after they went 17-9 for the year. Turlock went 11-4 in the CCAL, taking second place after Enochs finished in first with a 13-2 record. Pitman was right there in the mix after going 9-6, which tied them with Gregori for third place.
The Pride went 12-13 last year. One of the two losses in league by Enochs, came at the hands of Pitman which toppled them in a 2-1 victory back on April 9 of last year.
Heading into Tuesday’s first game of league, Pitman’s record was 5-0-1. They only have one senior on the squad in Meagan Johnson.
Lewis will be looking for junior Kai Deleon to have another successful season, as well as juniors Gabby De Leon and Maddy Insill whom he has had on the team for all three years so far.
The Pride also pulled up three freshmen who will contribute immediately in Addie Mettler, Danielle Houlden and Lacie Nycum.
Turlock has the luxury of having four pitchers on the roster in Brooke Weese, Carrie King, Adison Machado and University of San Diego bound Faith Hernandez.
Turlock is also strong offensively. Following six pre-league games played, Turlock is 2-4, but has racked up 29 runs scored, including a 19-run contest against Hughson on March 3.
“They are gelling really well and we are trying to get things going as far as getting our defense and hitting going,” said Ogden. “So far, the older players and seniors have done a great job welcoming everyone new and showing great leadership…We are excited and we think they can guide us to where we want to go.”
Along with senior Hernandez is Mackenzie Campbell and Nataly Jimenez. Captain Lauren Edh and Kylie Coelho (CSU East Bay) should also play heavy innings for the ‘Dogs this year.
“We are going to be competitive. I know we will give up a lot of runs, but also have the ability to score a lot of runs,” Ogden added. “We think we can compete in league. I don’t know if we will win a league championship this year, but we definitely will be competitive and one of our expectations is to make the playoffs.”
“Every coach says it anyways, but I absolutely believe we can compete for a league title, but we want to be ready for the playoffs,” Lewis added. “I am confident in their ability; we just have to produce that is the main focus and go deep into the playoffs. I think our preseason schedule set us up well for league, and the tournaments as well. We are facing the top teams in that tournament over spring break.”