The beginning of the Bay Valley Athletic League softball season was (mainly) a wash as most games had to be postponed because of the rains early this morning. That gives us a little time to give a more in-depth look as the league’s eight teams.
The Falcons are the unquestioned favorite to win the league, and not just because of Williams. Nearly all of their starters return, including infielders Sam Bias and Jessica Gardner. Last year a lot of Freedom’s players got extended playing time as the stellar class of 2004 graduated. They lost a league game to Carondelet and were really tested in the NCS playoffs. Those experiences should help this year’s team, making them that much more difficult to play against.
Anyway, I know there’s a lot of passionate softball fans out there, so let us know what you think.
The last time the Warriors won a BVAL game, George W. Bush was still the governor of Texas and there was an actual budget surplus. Well, there won’t be a budget surplus anytime soon, but Ygnacio Valley may actually get back in the win column. The main reason will be the development of pitcher Chelsea McEachran, who, according to coach Nathan Vasarhely, has added 5-10 miles an hour to her fastball. That may not be a big difference when the Warriors play the league’s elite, but it could help when facing other teams that are rebuilding. The Pirates were a playoff team in 2004 but a lack of experience cost them in 2005. The key will be finding an everyday pitcher. If they do find such a player, then the Pirates could contend for the top half of the league standings. That’s because several offensive stars such as Fachon Jones, Kendra Carmouche and Jasmine Battle are back. Panthers coach John Luis said the youth of his team is both their strength and weakness. That is, the players will be very good in time, but there may be some growing pains along the way. Pitchers Dani Foster and Chance Imholtz will be relied on to carry the load in the meantime. Infielder Katie Pace is a three-year starter who should provide stability, as will catcher Justine Watson. Antioch is right now without third baseman Brandee Fisher, who was injured during basketball season. The Lions have a mix of youth and experience. The youth comes from pitchers Shelbie Raposa and Ashley Bouslog, and the experienced players include Lauren Flores, Rachel Boone, Brittany Gray, Heather Foisy and Lauren Rodrigues. Even though Liberty will rely on their returning starters, the bottom line is Raposa and Bouslog will have to grow up quickly if the Lions are to compete. 2005 was a disappointing year for the Wolverines but they may be on their way back. They were roughed up by Monte Vista in their season opener, but a 4-3 loss to Foothill over the weekend was pretty respectable. The pitcher in that game was freshman Emily Allard. She’ll get a lot of work this season as Deer Valley hopes to get back to the playoffs. There are some position players that have to be replaced, including third baseman Morgan Siegel, whose at Cal. But if the Wolverines can cut back on the errors and get consistent pitching, there’s no reason to think they can’t finish in the top half. There were times when the Eagles used to be BVAL also-rans, but those days are over. Clayton Valley returns a solid nucleus of players, which includes pitcher Courtney Alvarez and third baseman Kelsey Chambers, and it should be able to build upon the success of last year. Seeing as how her team has the experience, first-year coach Jennifer Arnold wants her team to be more aggressive. If they stay healthy, the Eagles should make a return to the postseason. The Cougars were the only BVAL team to beat Freedom last year as then-freshman Kyle Lamet matched Williams pitch-for-pitch. Lamet is back and should be stronger than last year, but the Cougars will need to be more creative when it comes to scoring runs. Their two big bats from last season, Candace Curtis and Ashley Nichelman, have graduated. That said, other players such as Katie Cross, Nikki Yee and Caitlin Luquet are capable of getting on and getting around the bases. The first thing you think of when you think of the Falcons is pitcher Amanda Williams. The second is the four straight NCS titles. The third is the seemingly endless supply of talent. The fourth is, well…, you get the point.