Ready for a revival

Golden Sierra aims for GEL softball title after years of woes
By: Cody Hess Journal Sports Correspondent
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GARDEN VALLEY ” It has been close to a decade since Golden Sierra High's softball team was a serious contender for the Golden Empire League title. It's been a very, very long time since we've been competitive, said head coach Calvin Howard, in his third year leading the Grizzlies. In previous years, the program's been essentially non-existent, so what we're trying to do is rebuild the program in itself. Though formidable challenges and competitors lie ahead, Howard and his 2008 team are confident that they have the power to once again bring Grizzly softball to the forefront. We have very quality girls this season and we really are looking to claim a league title, Howard said. We had a tough time all last season, but this team has what it takes. It's very exciting. The Grizzlies have already dramatically improved on last season's two wins. They're currently 9-2 after triumphing over San Juan 15-0 on Friday. Returning to the diamond this year is a star-studded lineup, including powerhouse catcher Shelby Briones and junior second baseman Molly Howard, who last season racked up a batting average of .468, 30 stolen bases and 12 RBIs. Howard was an all-GEL selection and last summer earned a prestigious spot on America's Team International. The only Californian selected for the team, Howard will travel to Italy in August to compete in several games against the Italian Softball Federation. Golden Sierra also expects big things from seniors Alison Brownell, Shelly Durham, and Corrina Costa, holding down first base, third base, and center field, respectively. The Grizzlies also boast some phenomenal freshmen, namely shortstop Kara Miller and pitcher Sarah Rasmussen, who currently leads the team with 81 strikeouts, 14 RBIs, and two home runs. Pitching is the only place I feel comfortable, said Rasmussen, who regularly intimidates the competition with her signature screwball pitch. The Grizzlies are filled with optimism for this season's upcoming games, including key games against perennial rivals Capital Christian and Lindhurst. Capital killed us last year, but we're definitely going to come back, Molly Howard said. Our team is the best we've had in years, and we've really started to mesh well. Hopefully by winning we can attract some attention (for the program). As the team steams ahead, rising like a phoenix out of the ashes of so-so seasons, coach Howard eagerly looks to the future. (The girls) have all decided they want to meet their goals and be as successful as possible, he said. They're all pretty well in tune with each other, and it's just huge where we are right now. It's a lot better than where we were.