Scorpions poised to strike

Girl is going to hit the ball.
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© Iris Smoot/Acorn Newspapers
Camarillo High’s Jenna King takes a big cut at a pitch during a non-league contest against Westlake. King, a senior, had three hits in her first eight at-bats of the season. © Iris Smoot/Acorn Newspapers

For at least one day, everything is perfect for the Camarillo High softball team.

It’s picture day.

The girls saunter to the field dressed up in their spotless uniforms. Everyone’s smiling. Everyone’s laughing. The season is young and optimism soars higher than Ben Franklin’s kite.

Head coach Jack Willard sips his Diet Coke. He likes what he sees from his charges.

“They work hard at everything,” Willard said from the dugout. “They come to practice and they work. I can say that about all the girls.”

After securing seven straight Pacific View League championships, Camarillo witnessed Rio Mesa and Oxnard take turns occupying first place in the past two seasons. Reclaiming the Pacific View is a top priority.

“We want to be league champs,” said Willard, now in his 10th season as head coach. “We want to get back and build that streak again. It starts with a streak of one.”

Sarah Shadinger, a junior pitcher and Oregon State commit, leads the Scorpions on the field.

The junior flamethrower said she’s excited about what this team can accomplish.

“We have a new team,” she said. “We’ve got a few new faces and we have a good team this year. Hopefully, we’re going to be hard to beat.”

Shadinger, who went 13-9 last year, credited her defense with stepping up and making big plays.

The junior developed a changeup and is throwing the pitch with confidence, Willard said. She had 38 strikeouts in her first four games.

“She can be a dominating presence,” the coach said. “She gives us a chance to stay in games.”

Shadinger’s sisters, Amy and Brooke, play softball at Jamestown College (N.D.) and Grace College (Ind.), respectively.

Senior first baseman Kristie Dederick said the Scorpions have strong pitching and defense but the offense needs to kick it up a notch.

“We need to be able to hit under pressure,” the first baseman said.

One of seven left-handed batters, Dederick said she tried to improve her swing and defense at first. Willard hopes the senior can be a steady run producer in the middle of the lineup.

Dederick’s freshman sister, Ella, started at goalkeeper for the Newbury Park soccer team that reached the section semifinals. The senior is an honors student with a 4.2 grade-point average.

Jenna King, a senior center fielder, tries to lead the team by example.

“I try to show confidence,” King said. “The more confident you are, the team and younger players feed off of it.”

Winning league is a big deal for the Scorpions.

“It’s really important,” said King, whose younger sister, Amy, plays on the junior varsity squad. “I really want to win league and redeem ourselves.”

As a freshman, King joined the varsity team for the playoffs with her sister Laura, a senior at the time. Laura King currently suits up for Cal State Bakersfield.

Jenna King, an honors student, carries a 4.2 GPA. She also played club soccer for eight years.

Sophomores Hayley Chamberlain, a shortstop, and second baseman Shelbie Franc form a solid middle infield.

“They’re both excellent de- fenders and both left-handed slap hitters who can hit,” Willard said of Chamberlain and Franc.

Chamberlain appreciates working with the coaching staff.

“It’s nice to have one-on-one time to learn different aspects of the game,” said Chamberlain, who has a 3.5 GPA. “They offer different perspectives.”

Chamberlain has five siblings, including her brother Justin, a junior star pitcher for the ACHS baseball team. Siblings Krystle (softball at BYU), Blake (volleyball and football), Shannyn (softball) and Brett (baseball) also played sports at Camarillo.

Franc, who has a 3.2 GPA, said she enjoys playing with this team.

“This is a great group of girls,” she said. “We have great team chemistry.”

Franc’s 12-year-old brother, Adam, plays baseball. The second baseman has worked on her hitting and bunting.

Junior Amy Anderson and freshman Megan Resnick share catching duties.

“They’re both hardworking, great kids,” Willard said of his catchers. “For us to be successful, we need to catch well.”

Chase Robledo, a freshman third baseman, has four RBI in her first five games. She’s a solid defender with good instincts who understands the game. She’s also improving as a hitter, the coach said.

Junior Bianca Noriega and sophomore Shelby Jacobsen are outfielders who can also pitch. Senior Natalie Noriega, an outfielder and designated player, bats .400 with five runs in the early going.

Kellie Kooker, a freshman outfielder and first baseman, is recovering from a broken wrist and could return by midseason, Willard said.

The Scorpions have all-stars on the diamond and in the dugout.

Camarillo boasts a coaching cadre suitable for Team USA.

“We have a great coaching staff,” Shadinger said.

Assistant coaches include former Scorpions and college standouts.

Camarillo graduates Nichole Pinedo, Brooke Lambert, Cambria Miranda and Jaclyn Victoria aid the Scorpions. Lambert and Miranda starred at Oregon State while Pinedo patrolled the infield for UCLA.

Former Royal and BYU luminary Andi Ramirez also dispenses wisdom.

Another Camarillo and UCLA product, Johnna Price, guides the junior varsity team with her father, Joe Mike.

“ This is a great group of people I get to work with every day,” Willard said.

Camarillo’s off to a hot 4-1 start. The Scorpions want the community to notice.

“People should come out and support us,” Franc said. “They should watch our games.”

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