The California State University, Stanislaus softball team has already kicked off their 2015 season with a 2-2 record thus far, but there are many things that make this year much different for the Warriors and head coach Jan Schefkowitz, who has been with the team since 1992.
With a bulk of the players as underclassmen, 15 freshman and sophomores to be exact, the Warriors are without a doubt one of the youngest teams in the state and in the California Collegiate Athletic Association heading into the new year.
Although there are only five seniors and juniors, Schefkowitz is more than confident in her current roster, and believes that this squad has what it takes to bring the team back to the days of victory since the Warriors have not had a winning season in over five years.
“I think it’s exciting in that there is a lot of energy in our team and with that is a bit of inexperience for the level of play, so we are looking through that,” Schefkowitz said. “What I like is that our team works hard and they just need to get that experience. It’s still too early on, but we will see how it plays out. We have high hopes that the sophomores will step up.”
As of now the sophomores and freshman are the leaders in nearly every batting category with sophomores Morgan Balestreri atop in batting average (.571) and Nicolette Vizcaino right behind (.500).
In reality, everybody is a threat on this team at any given moment Schefkowitz said.
“We’re deep really everywhere. There is competition everywhere and that is what is different from recent years that there is competition and they are all young together,” she said. “Even with the seniors because really we don't have many, everyone is working hard and fighting for a spot and that is very good.”
It might be too early to tell but all players will look to get playing time one way or another.
The defense has also improved as the team has a fielding percentage of .966 as opposed to last year’s .953.
A big reason for the great and sudden change might not just be the fresh faces on the roster but perhaps an overnight bonding trip in Monterey that Schefkowitz set up for the team to get to know each other last fall.
“We went away as a team and that was good and we have done that in the past but not so recently, not overnighters. This year was overnight and that was very different because we have so many new faces and we needed to find ways to mesh better,” Schefkowitz said.
So far the Warriors have already looked more impressive than in recent years and with the help of their senior leaders in Jessica Varady, Natalie Rendon, Holly Mooring and Angela Mendoza it wouldn’t be surprising if the Warriors don’t make a run for a league title.
“It’s a learning experience year and we will grow from our mistakes and not get down from our mistakes,” Schefkowitz said. “I think we are really working on being a five-tool team and that’s exciting because we have serious speed on our team and our pitching is good and we have hitters that can crush and their energy is good.”
The Stanislaus Warriors next game will be at home against Cal State East Bay at 4 p.m. Friday.