Softball set for 2014 season

02.03.2014 | By Amanda L. Booren

San Jac softball ready for 2014 season Media Contact: Amanda L. BoorenBy: John Bechtle, for HOUSTON - With four all-region or all-conference players back among six starters, the San Jacinto College softball team will open the 2014 season with plenty of optimism during back-to-back appearances at Galveston College-based tournaments. The 2013 squad, led by many of those same performers, wound up with 40 overall wins but fell short of its goal of reaching nationals. Now it's time for San Jac to take the next step. “(Every year) you know Blinn is going to be there, and Galveston as well,” San Jacinto College head coach Kelly Saenz said, even before Galveston debuted in the National Junior College Athletic Association's preseason poll at No. 7. Fellow Region XIV foe Navarro stands at No. 13. “Alvin has undergone a coaching change, so you don't know there. Lamar State also has a good program. As far as my team, we're going to be a scrappy bunch. Good pitching at the top and some power in th elineup mixed with some speed at the top.” Many players were given the chance to play at a variety of positions and were also penciled into the lineup in different spots. Now, things are much clearer. Sophomore Karri Smith (Alvin / Alvin HS) will anchor the pitching staff after a stellar freshman season landed her an all-conference second team berth. In the circle, Smith had 104 strikeouts to go with a 2.16 earned run average. Smith also chipped in offensively, hitting .308. “Karri will need to lead the way for us,” Saenz said. “She's capable of going out there and helping us win every time she pitches.” Beyond Smith, San Jacinto College will be young in the pitching department, with Saenz listing freshman newcomers Bridget Stein (Brenham / Brenham HS), Katy Potter (New Caney / New Caney HS), and Emma Adkins (Buna / Buna HS) as options. Behind the plate, the coaching staff also has options. Taylor Burnett (La Porte / Deer Park HS), a sophomore returnee, could see time behind the plate. Or Burnett might hold down the designated hitter role, with Saenz turning to either Brigitte Gauvin (Winnipeg, Canada / College Louis-Riel) or Carah Nunez (Tomball / St. Pius X HS). “As of right now, we'll probably rotate Gauvin and Nunez at third base and at catcher,” Saenz said. “Burnett might also get some time behind the plate, or be the primary designated hitter. We have options there. Again, it's about who's hot at the plate.” At first base, Loren Donaldson (Alvin / Alvin HS) returns as one of the top hitters in the region. At .345 last season with 16 doubles, seven home runs and 57 runs driven in, Donaldson was a first team selection at both the conference and regional levels. “Loren is one of the big bats in the lineup,” Saenz said. “We'll count on her for run production. We know what she is capable of doing, and we need that from her, again.” The second base job could wind up being a platoon situation with Elizabeth Garcia (League City / Clear Springs HS) and Priscilla Loa (Harlingen / Harlingen HS) sharing the spot. Ideally, one of the two players, or both, will step with big seasons and thus earn major playing time. Sophomore Jessie Rodriguez (Baytown / Barbers Hill HS) will make the move to shortstop, rounding out the infield for San Jac. San Jacinto College could field one of the most talented and experienced outfield trios in the region. Lauren Van Boeckmann (Deer Park / Deer Park HS), a former walk-on player, will return in right field after a stellar freshman season. Courtney Sams (Pearland / Pearland HS), who led the 2013 team in hitting at .443, is back after earning first team all-conference and second team all-region honors. Sams also knocked in 20 runs a season ago while stealing 33 bases. In left field, Sarah Ragsdale (Orange / Orange-West HS) returns as a first team player at both the conference and regional levels. Ragsdale, the 2012-2013 San Jacinto College Student-Athlete of the Year, hit .414 for the season with 11 doubles, four triples, 33 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases. “We have a lot of talent and experience in the outfield,” Saenz said. “For us, it's all about players performing as well as expected for us. “We have six starters back, which is good. Beyond that, we have a lot of freshman talent that we'll have to add in.” “And with 11 games coming over the first nine days of the regular season, Saenz has simple expectations. “This early in the season you want to go out and be as consistent as possible,” Saenz said. “And having 11 games here pretty quick, weather permitting, players are going to have a lot of chances to perform.”   About San Jacinto College Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College's job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College. For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.