GILROY – With a program that has finished runner-up in the Coast
Conference the past two seasons, qualifying for the playoffs in
both, and posting a school-best 34-18 record in 2008, for
fifth-year head coach Nikki Dequin to say her Gavilan College
women’s softball team is
the most talented
she has had in her tenure at the school bodes well for the 2010
GILROY – With a program that has finished runner-up in the Coast Conference the past two seasons, qualifying for the playoffs in both, and posting a school-best 34-18 record in 2008, for fifth-year head coach Nikki Dequin to say her Gavilan College women’s softball team is “the most talented” she has had in her tenure at the school bodes well for the 2010 season.
“We’ve always had some people who have strengths in certain areas and now all the athletes are talented all the way around,” said Dequin, a product of Gilroy High School and Gavilan College. “We have depth and have athletes who can play multiple positions. We haven’t had that in the past. Being able to play at multiple positions gives you so many more options.”
The Rams’ playoff appearance in 2008 was the program’s first since 1984.
Gavilan battled to an 8-7 mark entering conference play last week, as contests against two-time defending conference champ San Jose City and the always consistent West Valley were scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
The Rams split the two matchups, narrowly falling to San Jose City by a 3-2 margin in eight innings, but rebounding to take a 3-1 win from West Valley.
“Because we are so talented and because a majority of these girls have played with one another for so long, (a conference championship) has come up,” Dequin said. “Winning and losing is not really in our control. We can play the best game of our lives and still lose a ball game. We are trying to make sure we focus on the controllables. If we do so, there should be no reason why we can’t win the conference.”
With a roster jam-packed with local talent, Dequin stressed the importance of keeping those players close to home in order to prepare them for the next steps in their careers.
The Rams boast eight former Gilroy High players, one from Anchorpoint Christian, two from San Benito, three from high schools in Salinas, including Everett Alvarez, Salinas and North High, and one from Sobrato in Morgan Hill.
“I feel like we have so much talent in this area,” Dequin said. “There are young people out there that want to go on and play at the four-year level who need to be taught and encouraged to strive for that. It’s really important to keep these local athletes in the sport.”
The Rams field four returning starters from last year’s playoff team, including starting pitcher Melinda Ortiz.
“She is one to watch out for,” Dequin said. “She did a great job for us last year.”
The Rams bolstered their pitching staff this season, welcoming in two freshmen pitchers in Nikki Lobato out of Salinas High and Ashley Harrington out of Gilroy – two hurlers who have given Dequin a solid core in the circle.
“It’s a luxury that we haven’t had at Gavilan in a long time,” Dequin added about her pitching staff. “Having this type of pitching staff and the capability of the pitchers we have this year is going to be really beneficial for us.”
Gavilan continues conference action this week with an away game against Hartnell in Salinas today and a home date with Cabrillo College on Thursday. First pitch for both games is slated for 3 p.m.