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Play Ball: Chico State softball turns to seniors for success in 2016 season

Junior+Cailin+Garmon+lines+up+to+the+pitcher+at+practice+on+Jan.+27.+Photo+credit%3A+Lindsay+Pincus
Junior Cailin Garmon lines up to the pitcher at practice on Jan. 27. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

Junior Cailin Garmon lines up to the pitcher at practice on Jan. 27. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

Junior Cailin Garmon lines up to the pitcher at practice on Jan. 27. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus


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A 21-15 conference record and 29-22 overall record last season took the Chico State women’s softball team to the CCAA Championship tournament and the NCAA Championship West Regional. However, it only won one of five games between the tournaments.

The difficulty the ‘Cats faced in the postseason is attributed to the inexperience among the team and the stress of the postseason said head coach Angel Shamblin.

“We have more returners now than last year,” Shamblin said. “There’s more pressure in the postseason, and we just need to stay calm and relaxed.”

While the ‘Cats have more senior players this year, they also have six freshman making up a third of their team. Senior first baseman Desiree’ Gonzalez showed no concern for the amount of freshman on the team, stating that several of them had shown success early on.

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Senior Alli Cook warms up by throwing with her teammates in the outfield during a practice on Jan. 27. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

 

“Even though they are younger, they know the game and they know how to play,” Gonzalez said.

Despite the success and promise some of the players have shown in practice, coach Shamblin was unsure of a starting roster. Shamblin did confirm that the incoming freshman on the team would be stepping up to fill necessary roles on the team, and will be getting playtime this season.

The ‘Cats have nine returners this year, giving them much needed experience and leadership. Among the returners is pitcher Haley Gilham, who made a big contribution to the team last year with her pitching, and recorded 20 consecutive scoreless innings.

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Sophomore Haley Gilham pitches the ball during practice on Jan. 27. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

 

“Last year I only really had two pitches to work for me, but I’ve been working on it and now I have a lot more that I can switch it up with,” said Gilham.

Gonzalez is also a notable returner for the team, as she had a slugging percentage of .607 last season, and is Chico State’s all time home run leader. Another big hitter returning for the ‘Cats is Alli Cook, who was First Team All-CCAA selection in 2015, and led the Wildcats in hits, runs scored, stolen bases and sacrifice hits.

The ‘Cats have two transfer students this year, junior outfielders Sarah Galaviz and Cyrena Taylor. Both came to Chico State from Odessa College and earned First Team All-Western Junior College Athletic Conference honors in 2015.

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Junior Sarah Galaviz runs the ball to the infield after catching it during practice on Jan. 27. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

 

Both Galaviz and Taylor are expected to make big contributions on offense, as Galaviz hit .382 with 17 stolen bases last year. In the 2015 season Taylor batted .387 with five home runs and 54 runs batted in.

The Wildcats will kick off their season with a home game on Feb. 6, against the Academy of Art.

Kenta McAfee can be reached at [email protected] or @KentaMcAfee on Twitter.

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Play Ball: Chico State softball turns to seniors for success in 2016 season