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Chico State softball season preview

Lars Gustafson

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First-year student Haley Gilham is making her debut on the Wildcat softball team this year as a starting pitcher. Photo credit: George Johnston

After a 2014 season that ended with a overall record of 24-26 and missing playoffs, the Chico State softball team is hard at work preparing to get back to playoffs in 2015.

“Our goal this year is to get into the postseason. Everybody is working really hard, so far so good,” said Angel Shamblin, head coach.

 

Key Returners

With 12 out of 18 players being juniors or seniors, the ‘Cats are bringing back a veteran team with no shortage of leadership. Junior outfielder Alli Cook and first baseman Desiree Gonzalez both had spectacular sophomore seasons and expected to be a key part of the batting lineup this year.

Cook led the team with a .371 batting average and tied the record for most stolen bases. Gonzalez knocked out 11 home runs last season and finished the year with a .308 batting average.

“They both finished the year with great numbers and we’re expecting them to return and get some great numbers for us over the next couple years,” Shamblin said.

Senior infielder Emily McEnaney had 32 RBI’s and hit .314 in 2014. She is another big part of the offensive strategy this season.

Junior pitcher Brooke Langeloh will be back on the mound and will be leading the bullpen with fellow junior pitcher Cheyenne Sandoval. With the loss of ace pitcher Alex Molina, Langeloh and Sandoval will be the returning pitchers with the addition of first-year pitcher Haley Gilham expected to join the starting rotation.

“I’m really excited for our bullpen,” Langeloh said. “We have a freshman starter, Haley. She’s doing really well. We have Chey Sandoval who came back from last year, I’m really excited for this year and I think were going to do great.”

First-years and Transfers

Newcomers Karli Skowrup and Haley Gilham are expected to make an impact immediately for Chico State.

Skowrup was a major playmaker for the Westlake High School Warriors. She batted .338 as a senior and was a two-time All-Marmonte League selection during the past four years.

Gilham is going to be in the starting pitcher lineup during her debut as a Wildcat. The right-handed pitcher was a part of a Norco High School team that won the 2012 Big VIII League Title.

“All the freshman have helped out a lot,” said Courtney Brown, senior third basemen. “This team is going to be way better than last year.”

The Wildcats added transfer utility player and sophomore pitcher Cailin Garmon from Eastern New Mexico University this season. Garmon led the Zias with 12 complete games pitched and 91 strikeouts. Offensively, Garmon batted .330 and stole eight bases as a true first-year last year.

“She can play outfield or infield and pitch very fast,” Shamblin said. “She’s a true utility player.”

Key Games

 

The Wildcats are in the tough California Collegiate Athletic Association conference and are facing some tough competition this year. Langeloh said that some of the key games on the schedule this season are against UC San Diego, Humboldt State and Sonoma State.

“Every game is big,” Shamblin said. “We try not to make any game bigger than the next. Every game is important and we strive to go out and get better everyday.”

The ‘Cats are kicking off their season on the road against Academy of Art in Turlock.

Lars Gustafson can be reached at [email protected] or @larsonsports on Twitter.

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Chico State softball season preview