BY ESTEBAN RAMIREZ Special to The Californian
Despite losing most of the main contributors from a team that advanced to the second round of the state softball playoffs, Bakersfield College coach Sandi Taylor remains optimistic about this season.
"Although we have youth and inexperience, I wouldn't say we're rebuilding, but we're definitely reloading," Taylor said. "It's hard to replace those players because our team last year had a lot of run production from a lot of different players, so it's not just replacing one that is the key. We have to replace a lot, so you just manage the best you can with what you have. If we don't hit the ball out of the park like last year, even though we have the potential to hit it out the park, we can't live and die on that. You got to be able to produce runs in multiple ways."
BC was 29-15 overall and finished fourth (11-7) in the Western State Conference last season, earning the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. But only four players return this season for a team that lost all-conference catcher and team MVP Kara Frankhouser and second team all-conference players Julie Estep, Jazmine Irvin and Kaitlin Toerner.
The four returning players are middle infielder Brittney Roberts from Centennial High, who batted .283 with two home runs and 12 RBIs; outfielder Heather Rayhill from West, who batted .500 with one RBI; pitcher Kelsey Best from Foothill, who was 1-2 with four strikeouts and a 5.35 ERA; and infielder Kassidi Ward from Frontier, who redshirted last season.
BC was scheduled to start its season with a doubleheader Saturday at home against Fullerton College, but both games were rained out.
BC is scheduled to next play at Fresno City College on Friday, with the Renegades' first scheduled home game Feb. 7 against Cuesta College.
Taylor said she believes BC will be playing more small ball this season.
"It will be a lot of hit-and-runs and station-to-station until we develop the speed and anticipation of advanced base running; so we'll have to manufacture runs with the short game."
Taylor said the team's work ethic and commitment is its strength.
"Our goals are ... to get better a little bit each day. As long they continue to work hard and get better one percent each day then good things are going to happen," Taylor said. "Our weakness is the lack of experience and you can't improve on that weakness until you get experience and you can't get that until (you) play some games."
She added that the internal leadership of the returning players will be a key to the team's success this season.
Among the new players Taylor said could have a big impact are: catcher Brooke Charles from Ridgeview, who also played for the BC volleyball team; pitcher Morgan Petersen from Fresno-Central; pitcher Scout Hawksley from Tehachapi; and outfielder Shelbe Pennel, who transfered from Taft College.