FAIRFIELD — Who will be the next to make history in city high school softball?
Fifteen years ago, freshman Alicia Hollowell pitched Fairfield through an undefeated regular season and into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title game. The Falcons won the next two championships to give the program four overall.
Ten years ago, senior Anjelica Selden hurled Vanden to SJS Division III finals. The Vikings had won two of the previous three titles.
Five years ago, sophomore Cheyenne Cordes helped slug Rodriguez to the SJS Division III crown. The Mustangs won again two years later.
Armijo also has a storied past. In 1978 the Indians went undefeated to win the SJS Division I championship – the first of two in a three-year span – and were name the Cal-Hi Sports State Team of the Year.
With Vanden the only current city team over .500 in league play, a repeat of such heroics is a long shot, but each has something to hang its hat on an and potentially bright future. Here’s a look at the four city softball teams:
The Vikings lost two-time all-state player Rochelle Roberts but haven’t skipped a beat, again batting well over .300 as a team. Among their top returners are sophomores Kiwi McDaniel at shortstop/pitcher, Bailey Tingley at pitcher and seniors Talia Trujillo at third base/shortstop and Alexis McMahon at outfield/shortstop.
Also back are senior outfielder/catcher Irene Bonner, junior outfielder Jaycee Ruggiero and sophomore second baseman/outfielder Nadia Young.
Newcomers having a huge impact on the team are freshman first baseman/third baseman Hope Bradner, freshman utility player Korie Corral, sophomore catcher Sam Carter, junior pitcher/first baseman Jennifer Roberts and senior outfielder/catcher Haille Sheppard.
Also new to the team is junior outfielder Kailee Barnes.
Of his standout freshmen Bradner and Corral, Vikings coach Don Wakefield said, “I think you’ll be reading about them a lot.”
Wakefield, who’s been coaching the Vikings since 1995, said his goals for the season are simple: Win, have fun, win,” he said.
It doesn’t hurt that the strength of the team is that “everyone gets along,” according to their coach.
One of Wakefield’s former players Laeha Hill, is in her first season as coach of the Falcons and has a huge task ahead of her.
In several games in recent years they’ve given up more runs than some past Fairfield teams did in entire seasons.
Hill, a former Vanden standout who went on to play at Boise State, is looking to get the Falcons thinking big again.
“In the past this program used to be very competitive,” Hill said. “When I say competitive I mean the young ladies would not be satisfied with a loss and wanted to go to college and continue their career. Our goal this year as coaches is to strike a fire with these young ladies, to get them to want more than just being satisfied at staying where they once were and to get them to think about the possibilities to continue their career.”
Returning as starters for Fairfield are seniors Chelsey Aldana at third base, Adriana Lopez at center field, Alexis McKee at first base and Alejandra Sanchez as a utility player, juniors Monica Chapa at pitcher and first base and Destiney Moret at catcher and sophomore Shane Morita in the outfield.
Other starters for the Falcons are freshman Amani Randle at shortstop and catcher, freshman Mariah Andersen in the outfield and senior Nena Benavides at second base.
Also expected to contribute are first baseman Clarissa Contreras, pitcher/infielder Deniese Brown outfielder Monique Cruz and utility player Morgan Einchenberger.
“These young ladies have their work cut out for them this year compared to last year,” said Hill, whose younger sister Shasta Hill coaches the Fairfield junior varsity. “The one thing I will mention as softball program ‘strength’ is these young ladies have determination to make this program their own and want to learn more. As coaches we cannot ask more than that from our players and I am so grateful I have a great group of young ladies for my first year at a new program.”
The Indians have already had several impressive outings on offense and in the pitching department as they look to make it back to the SJS playoffs.
Sophomore Destiny Blueford has been especially impressive at the plate and in the circle. Other returning starters are seniors Kelsey Bomar at shortstop and catcher, Alexandra Azzopardi at designated player, and Jessica Miller at first and third bases, junior Delaney Gray in the outfield and at second base, and sophomores, Celsa Faulstitch at second base and the outfield, Mariah Kalamaras at third base and the outfield, and Janece Williams at catcher and the outfield.
Other starters are first baseman Vanessa Pennella and sophomore infielder Jocelyn Breaux.
Also expected to make a splash are junior catcher Brittany Monk, sophomore third baseman/outfielder Kierra Tinsley, sophomore pitcher Cecillia Rubio and freshman pitcher/first baseman Elena Tak.
Rick Newman, who’s been coaching the Indians since before the turn of the century, sees “experience at key positions and strong defense” as strengths of the team.
Newman added that he’d like to see the team “develop stronger pitching with our young pitching staff to go with the defense, continue to work on fundamentals with our younger varsity players and work on developing better hitting.”
The Mustangs have returning pitching depth in senior Brenna Mitchell and junior Rayna Damacion. Also back as starters are senior third baseman Amie Perkins, senior outfielder Destiny Campbell, junior shortstop Melissa Eisen and junior second baseman Julie Lopez.
Other starters include senior first baseman Ciara Bell, junior outfielder Cassidy Lanza and sophomore catcher/first baseman Halle Sullivan.
Also expected to contribute are outfielder Makenzie Alspaw, outfielder/catcher Lauren Riddle and catcher/outfielder Emma Vogliano.
“Our strength is in our returning group,” said Tracy Cordes, who’s in her ninth season as coach of the Mustangs. “They have another year of experience and should be a stronger unit this year. Our goals are to play with more desire and heart and improve our record from last year 910-15). The ultimate goal is to make playoffs. We have a great group of girls at Rodriguez and we are looking forward to a great season.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.