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Season Preview: Coach, Lineup, Home Field All New For 2011 Women's Softball

Season Preview: Coach, Lineup, Home Field All New For 2011 Women's Softball image

The Pasadena City College women's softball team begins the 2011 season this week with a height of anticipation from first-year head coach Josh Musselman. With just four players returning from the 2010 squad, the Lancers will be looking at a host of newcomers to channel the team's potential for success.

Pasadena expects to carry at least 20 players on the active roster, including 12 freshmen. PCC also will be playing on a new home field, leaving its old diamond at Brookside Park (next to Rose Bowl) for Robinson Park, located at 1081 N. Fair Oaks in Pasadena.

PCC struggled last year offensively, batting just .245 in South Coast Conference games and outscored 109-49. Meanwhile, the conference's two top teams and state powers Cerritos College (.376) and Mt. San Antonio (.378) displayed strong batting orders. Musselman hopes to bring the Lancers' offense up to par with those perennial top colleges.

Part of Musselman's strengths as a former assistant coach was his ability to tutor hitters and improve the offense at previous workplaces--Cal State San Bernardino, Sonoma State, and Loyola Marymount University. 

He is excited about the prospects of the hitters at PCC.

"I think we have a well-balanced offensive attack," Musselman said. "We just need to settle into the dynamics and rhythms that make us a team. Once we get to that place, we will be an offensive threat. In order for us to be successful, we must be able to capitalize when runners are in scoring position."

One of the team's most talented batters is transfer sophomore left fielder Kayla Moore, a two-time, All-Class 5 Centennial League First Team selection for Fairview High in Boulder, Colorado in 2006-2007. Moore (pictured), who took two years off from the sport before returning this season, will be the Lancers' leadoff hitter.

Another key hitter who took time off from playing but is returning as a freshman second baseman for the Lancers is Jessica Chavez. Slated as PCC's cleanup hitter, Chavez batted .415 with three home runs and 18 RBI at Culver City High in 2008. 

Chavez is also a solid defensive player with a strong arm as she replaces All-SCC second baseman Lupita Contreras, who graduated. Musselman is taking the team's incumbent catcher and moving her to shortstop in sophomore Nancy Perales.

Rounding out the Lancers' infield is third baseman Elizabeth Hanna, a transfer from El Paso Community College in Texas via her prep play at Burbank's Burroughs High; first baseman Danielle Lugo, a transfer who batted .348 with one homer and 15 RBI at East Los Angeles College last year; and incoming catcher Jessica Hernandez, an All-CIF Division VI selection at South El Monte High as a senior. Musselman cites Hernandez and Lugo as two of the team's better hitters.

The Lancers know if they want to move up the SCC standings it will have to rely on pitching. PCC's pitching ace is expected to be Megan Martin, who played outfielder all season at La Canada High as a senior when the Spartans won the Rio Hondo League title and made it to the CIF Division V semifinals. The Pasadena Star-News All-Area selection pitched in travel ball when she was younger, then impressed many when she tossed a 2-0 shutout in the Public v. Private School Senior All-Star game played in June in Temple City. 

"Megan comes from a rich tradition of talent at La Canada High," Musselman said. "She's outstanding at changing speeds in the circle, and we expect big things from her this season."

Letterman Samantha Gontol (109 innings last year, five victories) may also see pitching time as the season progresses along with frosh hurlers Adrianna Stevens (Albany High) and Samantha Perez (Lincoln High). Perez will also be hitting in the DP position.

PCC's slated starting outfield will be Moore in left, Nikki Salas, a .390 hitter from Crescenta Valley High and a member of the Burbank Leader All-Area team in center field, and returning sophomore Maycee Murphy in right. 

The rest of the PCC roster includes transfer sophomore Brooke MacLean (Leigh High, San Jose), returning outfielder Nichole Duran, sophomore infielder Evelyn Bocanegra, outfielder-second baseman Alexandra Ballesteros (Roosevelt High), freshman third baseman Siurabe Camerena (Rosemead), frosh outfielder Jasmine Villalobos (Mountain View), first-year catcher Anjelica Bernal (Stevens High, Texas), and freshman outfielder Ashley Shaneberger (South Hills). 

This Saturday, Jan. 29, the Lancers open the season with a pair of games at LA Mission College (El Cariso Park) in Sylmar. PCC plays a 1 p.m. game v. Palomar College, then faces Mission at 3 p.m.

PCC's debut at Robinson Park is Monday, Feb. 14 in a 2 p.m. contest against College of the Desert. The Lancers' South Coast Conference opener occurs the next day (Tuesday, Feb. 15, 3 p.m.) at Cerritos College.

Release Date: 01/24/11
Robert Lewis, Sports Information
Phone: 626-585-7018, Email: rmlewis@pasadena.edu