Bruins brave it out in Division III

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
-A +A
Bear River The Bear River High girls softball team has a target on its back according to coach Duane Zauner. Last year the Bruins (24-4 overall, 10-2 in the Pioneer Valley League) claimed their fourth consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title, making them only the second school in history, along with rival Lincoln, to do so. This year, they are 2-0 so far — proving that Bear River hasn’t wasted time getting its bearings in Division III. “We are in Division III this year, which is a whole new look and challenge,” Zauner said. “We’re excited about the opportunity.” Zauner said that while he is unfamiliar with playing many of the teams in the new division, the Bruins are prepared for whatever comes their way with a strong lineup. Junior Maddie Phelps, who moved up this year from JV, has pitched the last two games. Junior Erin Nichol will also assume a spot behind the mound April 1. Nichol has been out with a knee injury. Zauner said having two skilled pitchers would make the team even more dynamic than last year. “Maddie and Erin could be a one, two punch on the road,” Zauner said. “I haven’t had that in a long time, since we won division championships a few years ago when the seniors were freshmen.” Junior Alyssa Reina will be stationed behind the plate as catcher. Zauner said she set quite a precedent for herself last year, hitting four home runs as a sophomore. Junior Stephanie Ceo gave her verbal agreement to play for the University of Texas, following in her sister Courtney’s footsteps. Courtney is a freshman at the University of Oregon. Reina and Ceo are team captains, along with junior Courtney Edwards, who is 5-for-6 at bat the past two games. “Each year we get new captains that are stepping up to be that leader they had when they were younger,” Zauner said. “They know a lot is expected out of them and they keep pushing themselves.” As they look toward earning their fifth consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section division title, Zauner said that there is no lack of motivation coming from Bear River. Many of the girls thank him after each practice. “There is just such excitement as a coach when the kids that are there really want to be there,” Zauner said. Colfax With a rained out and snowed out field, the Falcons got off to a soggy start last week, joked first-year head coach Mimi Scott. Colfax, which is 0-2 so far, was missing six players up until last Wednesday. Five of the Falcons’ starting nine were leading the basketball team to a Pioneer Valley League co-championship, while sophomore Nelly Steinhoff claimed a CNISSF state championship with Colfax’s snowboard team. Scott was a three-sport athlete herself, so she understands that it may take the girls some time to transition to their spring sport. “I need to get them from basketball shape into softball shape. In basketball you are longer and leaner and in softball you have got to get leg muscles for sprinting,” Scott said. “Mentally they are in shape, especially after playing for a state tournament.” While the season may have started off rough, Scott said she is optimistic going forward because her team is finally coming of age. Juniors Ashley Scott and Caressa Sharpe, both returning for Colfax made all-league last year. Senior Nicole Escalante is also returning. The Falcons went 9-12 overall and 6-6 in PVL play. “We have been riding the bottom of the totem pole,” Scott said. “It is just the experience of playing at that level. When you have 14- year olds going against 18- year olds they get intimidated.” With the realignment of the Pioneer Valley League, the Falcons will say goodbye to three familiar foes and face a couple of new ones, including Center and Foothill. Scott said Colfax has one main goal going forward. “We’d like to make playoffs this year and there is no reason we can’t,” Scott said. Placer The Placer High Softball Team faced a rough season last year. With an 8-15 record overall and 2-10 in league, the 2010-2011 season has been a chance for the Hillgals to start fresh. So far they have done just that. Currently Placer’s wins outnumber their losses with a 4-3 record overall. Several of Placer’s most powerful players returned to the field this year, each with a little more experience than last. Taylor Graham who led Placer in hitting and slugging, will take to the plate again as will Kacy Romeor who had a .457 on base percentage. With a more mature team, the hillgals shut out Yosemite on March 11, for a 7-0 win and are currently ranked No. 3 in the Pioneer Valley League. Reach Sara Seyydin at