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Softball teams look to overcome challenges
Hilmar soft pic1
Hilmar High shortstop Alma Gallegos works on her throwing at a recent practice. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal

Here’s the scoop on this season’s softball teams.

Pitman High has been on a rampage, having started the season with a 6-2 overall record before today’s Central California Conference home opener against Merced High. Turlock High is off to a slow start, but the Bulldogs played a tough preseason schedule that they believe will help in league play. Turlock Christian High recently welcomed a group of girls basketball players who made a state tournament run, while Denair High and Hilmar High will once again be guided by veteran coaches in Paul Michaelis and Paul Willis, respectively.

Pitman’s goals are high. Yes, making the playoffs is one of them. This season, the Pride have a proven group that boasts the likes of returners Janessa Guevara and Allison Kuchan, who make up the pitching-and-catching duo. They have support in Makenna Hansen, Hannah Hibdon, Cami Larsen, Emily Raley, Miranda Taylor and Sarah Wood.

“This year’s team is more of a cohesive unit than last year’s team,” Pitman coach Cassie Sheppherd said. “The addition of assistant coach Amanda Goulart has been instrumental in the development of the team.”

For the Bulldogs, they’re 0-6-1 heading into today’s league opener against Buhach Colony High. But Turlock fans, don’t worry.

“We have played a tough preseason schedule and believe it will help us as we enter league this week,” Turlock coach Jill Ogden said.

Even so, the Bulldogs entered this season having lost seven seniors to graduation, “so our defense is entirely new and we are trying to figure out where everyone is best suited in order for the team to be successful,” Ogden added. “The pitching distance has been moved back from (40 feet to 43 feet), so we expect more offense and scoring.”

Pitcher Alyssa Gonzalez is a key returner for Turlock, as she’s a four-year starter. Seniors Alex Delgadillo and Ashley Gonzalez are also expected to contribute, as the Bulldogs will have a number of solid up-and-coming talents.

Hilmar also has a four-year starter in Alicia Paine, the team’s top pitcher. Other returners are shortstop Alma Gallegos and catcher Alissa Orosco, and Samantha White and Valerie Ewing are expected to help the Yellowjackets make another postseason run.

Turlock Christian softball has a later start than other teams, since the Eagles had a number of players on this season’s state tournament girls basketball team. The latecomers — Kaisa Spycher, Molly Farrar and Kara Gabrielson — are expected to play important roles with the likes of Angelina Martin, Tara Lafollette and Stephanie Huber.

Last season, the Eagles made the Section’s Division VI playoffs. They hope to repeat the feat.

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.