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TC softball starts a new year in CCAA
Turlock Christian's Hannah Hammond and Abby Kirkendall practice tagging their teammates out during running drills on Thursday. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

In his first year as the head coach for the Turlock Christian High softball team, Randy Hopkins and the lady Eagles battled with a team that had yet to reach its potential as they went on to earn a 1-13 Southern Athletic League record.

Now back for his second season, Hopkins's team might look thinner than last year but they are ready to work hard and compete in the newly renovated Central California Athletic Alliance.

“We were in a really strong league last season and some dominate schools,” said Hopkins. “Those schools were larger in population as well, so we couldn't compete and I feel with smaller schools we can do it now because we can compete in this league.”

While expectations might be hard to predict in a new league, one thing is for sure, that the lady Eagles are led by junior pitcher Cassie Balswick, Abbie Morelli and Aimee Jones.

Balswick not only did work from the mound, she was consistent on the plate, getting at least one hit in all 14 games while accumulating a batting average of .489.

“Cassie is a strong pitcher and a very good hitter,” said Hopkins. “We have about five very good players who are key veterans.”

Jones was second on the team in batting average (.378). Morelli topped the team in RBI (6) last year and finished the season with a .250 average.

“We have a few girls returning back this year and some fairly new girls,” Hopkins said. “I don't know what to expect with a few girls that are new, but expect a lot from a few leaders and in a new league, so I don't know how the year will pan out but expectations are always high.”

The team is looking to lean on these three juniors to lead the squad and be the difference makers on the diamond.

Although the team has only 10 players on the roster, the Eagles will be lucky to have anybody coming off the bench, so everyone on the team should expect to see a hefty amount of playing time.

“We will be top heavy because we don't have the numbers and that will make it tough, not many coming off the bench if anybody,” Hopkins said of his thin roster. “The girls are always positive, they don't have a problem at all, they will battle no matter what.”

TCs next game will be at Brookside Christian at 4 p.m. March. 25.

“We will work hard on fundamentals, the little things that it takes to win a softball game,” Hopkins added. “They will not hang their heads, they will pick their heads high in any situation we come upon this year. We will battle.”