‘Go green’ motto motivates Chico State softball to aim for the fences


Wendy Cardinali, 5, and Ari Marsh, 2, at Wildcat Softball Stadium. Photo credit: Kelsey Veith

Katalina Santamaria

“We’re ready to bring the fire,” said Kristin Worley, a sophomore outfielder, just after the Chico State softball team won their first five games of the season.

The team is now 18-1 on the season with a national ranking reaching as high as No. 7 in Division II softball from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association over the weekend.

The Wildcats have set the bar high for themselves this season and are quickly showing fans that they are determined and are ready to conquer the ultimate goal, the national championship.

The ’Cats grit and hard work is showing through impressive numbers coming from the offensive end along with outstanding pitching and defense. Combined, the team already has 20 home runs on the season with more than half of a season to go and is beginning to eye the 27 needed to break the Chico State record. The record currently stands at 26.

Kelsey Veith
Ari Marsh and Wendy Cardinali have been a big part of the Wildcat success this season.

Claire Wayne, junior catcher, has four home runs this season and dedicates her growing success as a hitter to constant practice and trusting the process.

“I work a lot outside of practice,” Wayne said. “A lot of tee work and repetition has really helped my hitting explode even more this year.”

With all the success the ’Cats have seen this season, Ari Marsh, junior right fielder, gave some insight into what she and other players believe may be a possible key to success. The Wildcats’ softball players all wear a green ribbon tied to the laces of one of their cleats and Marsh explained the reasoning behind it:

“The green ribbon symbolizes our team motto, ‘go green.’ That basically means that everyday we commit to having a positive, hard working, selfless mindset. It’s almost like a stop light. Yellow light means we may be slacking or not mentally there and red light means you’re not there at all or that you’re just being a bad teammate. So if we ever feel like we aren’t focusing or things might not be going our way, (we) just take a look at our shoe lace and it’s a helpful reminder that we aren’t here individually, but here for each other as a whole.” – Ari Marsh, junior right fielder

Along with Wayne and Marsh, fellow teammate, Wendy Cardinali, a junior shortstop, has shown great success behind the plate.

Cardinali is a transfer from Fresno State, which is a Division I team, but she finds that playing at Chico State has been nothing but a good time.

“When I chose to play for Chico, I knew how well they played in the past years and especially this year’s team since there is so much talent and drive,” Cardinali said. “I love the game so much and being here in Chico makes me love the game even more.”

Cardinali has 12 RBIs and three home runs on the season, including one in her first at-bat as a Wildcat.

Cardinali echoed Marsh about the ribbon saying, “It symbolizes to always have a confident and positive attitude, always supporting your teammates, along with going all out on a play or being aggressive in the batter’s box.”

Although everyone has been contributing to the softball team’s success, it could be argued that so far the biggest key to this team’s success is the solid pitching they are receiving from Haley Gilham, senior, and starter pitcher Naomi Monahan, junior.

Gilham has taken command this season with nine wins and four shutouts, more than any other Division II pitcher this season. This earned her the NFCA National Division II Pitcher of the Week award two weeks ago.

“I’d have to say everything that I have done in the off-season has helped me become a better pitcher overall,” Gilham said. “But it’s not just me, it’s having trust within my team and buying into our culture as a team and being able to help push each other.”

Wayne, Gilham’s primary catcher, recognizes her strong mindset and passion saying, “She comes in with a very ‘I dare you’ mentality and I recognize that all day. Her mindset is strong and something that sets her far apart from her competitors.”

Monahan, a Division I transfer for the ’Cats from Hawaii, is 10-0 on the year with a 1.10 ERA for the Wildcats. Following the loss that ended the 17 game win streak, Monahan helped the Wildcats rebound with 5.1 innings of one-run softball.

“It was fun while it lasted, but there is still a lot of work ahead of us and we just have to try and minimize losses going forward and get our bats going again,” Monahan said. “We followed our motto ‘Go Green’ and we’re able to bounce back from our loss today (Sunday).”

The Wildcats play Friday at noon against Cal State Monterey Bay, followed by a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.

Katalina Santamaria can be reached at [email protected] or @katalinaleanet on Twitter.