After spending the offseason pondering what could’ve been following a heartbreaking elimination loss against No. 23 ranked Dixie State in the NCAA West Region Championship game, the Sonoma State University softball team enters the 2018 season armed with a collection of fresh faces and a mix of junior and senior leadership.
Returning to the team is senior catcher Sarah Langley, senior infielder Jenn Amaral, junior infielder Alex Flores, senior outfielder Jordann White, senior infielder Karly Macadangdang, junior utility fielder Lindsey Calcany Blair, and pitchers Brigid Ruiz, Teresa Danenberg, and Brielle Vidmar.
Added to the brigade are two freshmen outfielders Julie Davis and Cameron Kirtlan, with both possessing a contact-speed combo that could change the pace of the game in a heartbeat.
“Our team has gained and regained some speed to our roster,” Vidmar said. “Julie Davis and Cameron Kirtlan are both lefty slappers and speedsters that can definitely help us succeed on the base paths.”
With 91 total stolen bases last season, the addition of extra speed will only help to increase run production and put pressure on defenses to make mistakes. Sonoma State will have the chance to steal early and often if it mirrors last season’s production in categories such as on-base percentage and batting average.
Last spring, the Seawolves finished fourth in the conference in on-base percentage (.373) and second in batting average (.295).
By getting on base consistently, the floodgates opened up for the offense to drive runners in, utilizing both base hits and the long-ball in the process. With a team total of 33 home runs, White led the way with eight, while returning players Macadangdang and Calcany Blair posted five and three, respectively.
While hitting is important, pitching and defense win championships. With the trio of Vidmar, Ruiz, and Danenberg each back this year, the Seawolves are poised to repeat as a top-five pitching staff this season. As a collective unit, they owned an earned run average of 2.61, which is quite low, and minimized the amount of free passes via the walk.
As for defense, Sonoma State committed a few more errors than it would like to have seen. With a .955 fielding percentage, the Seawolves finished seventh in the conference in this category. This is an area that needs more stability in order to surpass the best teams in the conference and in the nation.
Another area of importance will be team chemistry. Chemistry often leads to success, and Langley, a leader by nature as a catcher, sees it as an opportunity for the team to grow and become more in-tune.
“We have great team chemistry and everyone seems to understand their roles on and off the field,” Langley said. “As a team, we will probably need to trust each other to reach our goals, and that will come with playing games and traveling on the road early on.”
For this team, not only will chemistry be paramount, but consistency will be key in attempting to reach softball’s biggest stage: the College World Series.
“Even though we have a lot of returners, this team brings new elements than last year,” Vidmar said. “We have some players coming back from injury and a few new freshmen, so we’re going to have to trust our abilities and execute routine plays. If we can be more consistent in how we play everyday, we’ll have a successful season.”
The seawolves first game of the season will take place on Friday at a tournament in Las Vegas, where they’ll play Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon to kick off the season. First pitch is set for 11:30 a.m.