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PC softball set for new season
The Porterville College softball team has always been able to be competitive in the tough Central Valley Conference. And while this season could be much like last year, the Pirates expect again to represent themselves well in the CVC.
Last year, a young PC softball team struggled early, but eventually made a solid run in CVC play. This year’s squad may have to follow the same pattern as it has just one sophomore in Ashley Keener, who is also the only returning player from last season’s team.
“We’ll we experience some growing pains? Probably,” said longtime PC coach Vickie Dugan. “(But) I can’t see that they’re not going to be competitive by the time we get to conference.”
Again, PC will have to depend on versatile players who will play different positions. “All these girls are filling in the holes that we need them to fill in,” Dugan said.
Porterville will find out what kind of growing pains it can expect when it opens the season at the College of the Desert Tournament in Southern California on Friday and Saturday. Here’s a look at this year’s team:
Lindsey Rieger — Rieger will be a utility player who will come off the bench and could see some time as a relief pitcher by the end of the year.
Danela Salas — An outfielder and pitcher, Salas will see time in the outfield and could be another player who sees time as a relief pitcher by the end of the season.
Lexi Guild — Guild will be PC’s No. 1 starting pitcher. Dugan said Guild doesn’t have an overwhelming fastball, but does have decent speed and good movement on her pitches. Dugan also said when Guild isn’t pitching she will play second base. “She’ll be our main go-to pitcher,” Dugan said.
Ashley Higgins — Higgins, who played at Strathmore High, will see time at third base and is expected to help PC offensively. “Her bat should help us out,” Dugan said.
Erin Keener — Keener will start at second base. “Erin has been really a good find for us,” Dugan said. Keener can also play in the outfield.
Justine Rhines — Rhines will be PC’s will be a starting outfielder and Dugan said Rhines knows how to read the ball on a sun field, which is important at PC where the outfielders have the sun right in their eyes. “She has a really good read on the ball,” Dugan said.
Jessica Heffley — Heffley will either start in the outfield or at shortstop. She’s a solid slap hitter and will be PC’s leadoff hitter. “She’s been a true pleasure to have on the team,”
Dugan said. “A very consistent hitter. I think she’s going to be one of our top players. I think she will be a top player in the conference as well.”
Chelsie Childs — An outfielder and a pitcher, Childs will see time on the mound. “She has a decent change up,” Dugan said.
Kyndal McAnulty — McAnulty was battling Guild for the No. 1 pitching spot in the fall before breaking her foot. It’s hoped she can still pitch by the end of the year. Even if she doesn’t pitch, McAnulty will be in the lineup and it’s hoped she can handle shortstop so Heffley can stay in the outfield.
Maria West — A 2011 Monache graduate who was a standout outfielder for the Marauders, West is making the move to catcher after redshirting last year at the College of the Sequoias. “She’s a character,” said Dugan about West. But while West keeps things loose, she’s also shown strong leadership qualities and has adjusted to catcher where she’s improving her release time to second base, Dugan said. “She’s got a good pop time to second base,” Dugan said.
Dugan also said West should be one of PC’s power hitters. “She’s going to be able to hit the long ball for us,” Dugan said.
Ashley Keener — Keener took over at shortstop last year, but she will stay at her natural third base position this season. “She’s going to be one of our better hitters,” Dugan said.
Shaycie Atene — Another utility player who will also be the backup catcher.
Bethany Threlkeld — Threlkeld will start at first base and will be another power hitter. “She’s going to be a big hitter for us,” Dugan said. “She’s got a lot of power. She’s a real team player.”