Softball: Local teams go for repeat success in 2014
by Bob Brownne
Feb 27, 2014 | 2312 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Softball readies for start of season
West High sophomore Janae Sims pitches during practice Tuesday as the team prepares for the spring season.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Four local softball teams are out to match their accomplishments of 2013, when Tracy schools had three league champions in West, Tracy and Millennium, with the Millennium team going on to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII title. Kimball’s team was denied a league title but finished as SJS Division IV runner-up, and the team plans to take the next step this year.

West Wolf Pack

West High coach Martin Torres has a lot of gaps to fill after graduating the core of the 2013 Wolf Pack team, which went 22-9 overall and 10-0 in the Tri-City Athletic League.

“It's going to be a different dynamic,” Torres said. “I think the team understands that. They learned a lot from them last year. Everybody is looking to step up.

“It's a new chapter to the Wolf Pack softball book.”

There’s only one returning senior, Haley Hollis, who played both infield and outfield last year. Returning juniors are catcher Sam Asbra and outfielder/infielder Shelby Weeks.

Weeks, who expects to play infield this year, set a goal of batting at least .400 and repeating as an all-TCAL first-team player. Most of all, she wants to set the foundation for the younger players, including four sophomores — Brittney Reyes, Taylor Burns, Hailey Martin and Janae Sims — who return for their second varsity year.

“There are definitely talented freshmen and sophomores coming up,” Weeks said. “They need to look to the older girls as sisters, and whatever they do reflects what we do.”

Sims is back as the Wolf Pack’s pitcher and said good leadership will make West successful.

“The girls from last year taught me a lot about how to be a leader and how to help my team and influence others,” Sims said.

Tracy Bulldogs

The Bulldog softball team is making a transition from a San Joaquin Athletic Association championship team, which went 25-6 overall and 14-1 in the SJAA in 2013, to a team that could be even better this year.

The six returning seniors include three who have confirmed their plans to play at NCAA Division I colleges next year, but Smith likes to see rising players fill out the roster.

“I have a good group of juniors coming up who have been in the program since they were freshmen,” coach Greg Smith said.

Senior Tayler Misfeldt, the SJAA’s most valuable pitcher in 2013 and future pitcher for UC Riverside, said that the newcomers easily compensate for the players who graduated.

“I think we’re going to have as strong a team as we did last year and we’ll do it all again,” Misfeldt said.

Tracy’s main threat on the base paths continues to be senior Ellie Fisher, whose 102 stolen bases since her freshman year are a school record. Fisher, the SJAA’s most valuable player in 2013, will go to Santa Clara University next year.

“I’ve not only grown for the past few years, I’ve met new people and became a better team player,” Fisher said, adding that she aims to be a more powerful hitter this season.

Smith added that Jazmin Clarke, who has committed to Utah State University, is the best combination of speed and power he’s had on the team.

The Bulldogs also have two third-year juniors in Hayley Nunes and Alee Balanon, and new players include freshman pitcher Mikayla Coelho and sophomore pitcher and infielder Sonia Reddy.

Kimball Jaguars

The Jaguars are powered by the momentum that got them to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game in 2013. Only two seniors graduated from that team, and three of the six returning seniors are set to play at NCAA Division I colleges.

Sierra High was the only team that stood between Kimball — which went 25-8 overall and 11-3 in the Valley Oak League — and the VOL and Division IV titles. Danielle Lallos, a fourth-year varsity outfielder who will play at University of Buffalo in New York next year, said her returning teammates can help the new players understand what Sierra will bring to the field.

“The veterans need to step up and tell them, this is what you need to prepare for what (Sierra pitcher Allie Walljasper) is going to throw,” Lallos said.

Senior infielder Llesenia Torres said that in her fourth year on the team, she expects to inspire younger players to keep making the team better than ever.

“When you’re a freshman, you look up to upperclassmen. Now that we’re seniors, we’re trying to pass that along,” Torres said.

“This year we should be going all out,” she added. “All of us are confident that we can win the league.”

Kimball coach Joe Hernandez expects Lallos and Torres, both all-VOL first-team players in 2013, to continue to be batting leaders. The Jaguars also bring back senior pitcher Amanda Riley, who has signed with Monmouth University in New Jersey, and sophomore pitcher Samantha Sarmiento.

Millennium Falcons

The Millennium High softball team brings back nearly its entire squad from the 2013 season, when the Falcons went 17-6 overall, 8-0 in the Central California Athletic Alliance, and won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII championship.

Coach Maegan Lunn has 13 returning players, mostly sophomores and juniors, and three new players.

“They definitely have the skills. They just need to put it together,” Lunn said, adding that as a championship team, the girls will have to work harder than ever to defend those titles.

“I think it puts a target on our back. If they just stick to their game, they'll be fine,” she said.

Senior infielder Ericka Dominguez said that a successful season last year builds enthusiasm for the coming season.

“It raised my confidence and all of our team’s confidence. We just bonded as a family,” she said.

Senior catcher Gabrielle Ramirez, now in her fourth year on the team, added that the Falcons were primed to win it all last year after finishing as Division VII runner-up the previous two years.

“The difference was our team was more united. We were more like a family,” she said. adding that she feels the same enthusiasm in the team this year.

Returning players include sophomore pitcher Amy Wise, an all-CCAA first-team selection last year; fellow sophomores Jayda Jenkins, Alex Ramirez and Elisa Deras; and junior Riquel Rivera and Annalisa Repetto, who also made the all-CCAA list.

Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or brownne@tracypress.com.

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