Coming off a 2018 season that saw the Mustangs’ softball team reach the California Community College Athletic Association State Softball Championships, the hopes are high for a deep postseason run.
“Last year’s group was mostly freshman and they are coming back and want to get back to the state championship,” said Jim Fisher, Head Coach of the Mustangs since 2009. “Their goal is to get back to the state tournament.”
While the team did lose its top two in runs batted in from last season, the Mustangs return four players that last season drove in at least 19 runs each.
“If you look at Janelle Rodriguez last year compared to this year at this point in time she’s not even the same person. She’s a much better player now.”
“Shay Trent in center is more developed mentally and getting better physically. Tawny is our shortstop and I expect her to continue to improve offensively. Gabby Olivas who was in and out of the lineup last year has improved tremendously,” said Fisher.
Tawny Deerinck is the team’s leading returner in runs batted in as she drove in 25 runs while hitting for a .331 batting average last season.
“Then we have some other returners that played in other places last season like Riquel Riveira, who filled in and played a great second base and we expect her to continue that at first,” said Fisher.
While the offense will have a familiar look, the Mustangs will have a different look in the circle this season with Delaney Pamplin and Jenna Nauta set to start the season pitching the bulk of the innings.
Pamplin joins the Mustangs after pitching last season at Notre Dame de Namur where she led the team in innings pitched. Nauta graduated from Stockton’s Franklin High School last year and won 15 games for the Yellowjackets.
Cheyenne Washington is also expected to join the rotation once healthy.
“As we go through fall and intrasquad you don’t know how they are going to react when the scoreboard turns on and a different uniform walks in,” said Fisher about his pitching staff. “They are strike throwers. We are really going to play defense behind them.”
After a 2-7 start last season the Mustangs at one point won nine straight games on their way to finishing 18-6 in Big 8 Conference play and 28-18 overall.
“We started out 2-7 but we kept getting better and by the end we deserved it. By the time the end of the season came and we are at the state tournament we were fulfilling our potential.” said Fisher.
“The first game the number one job is to compete. Last year we didn’t compete until game ten, our job this year is to compete from game one.”
The Mustangs’ first games of the season are Feb. 2 in Visalia as they will face Cabrillo and College of the Sequoias.
Their first home game is on Feb. 5 against West Valley at 2 p.m.