Spartan softball team tries to bounce back

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Despite a 1-10 start, the Rio Mesa High softball team is optimistic about turning this season around.

“We have a motto here,” Spartan head coach John Velasquez said, “and that’s, ‘Play hard, finish strong.’ That’s exactly what we have to do. We can’t hang our heads over what happened during non-league. Now it’s league season, and we have to pick it up.

“We’ve had injuries and a few sick players, but we’re starting to get healthy.”

The Spartans aren’t used to being under .500. They’ve made the playoffs for more than 10 consecutive seasons, according to Velasquez.

“We have our pride, and we’re going to battle for a top-three finish in the (Pacific View) League,” said Velasquez, who’s in his 27th season guiding the Spartans. “We want to keep our streak of playoff appearances alive. I’m sure we’ll turn it around soon.”

Camarillo and Oxnard are the favorites to win the Pacific View championship.

The Spartans don’t mind being under the radar.

“It’s been rough, but we’re all improving,” senior third baseman/ pitcher Ashley Baca said. “We’re going to surprise some teams. We’ve come a long way since the first game of the season.”

The Spartans were 1-1 in league play entering Thursday’s game at Oxnard. Results of the game weren’t available before press time.

Rio Mesa has struggled in the circle.

Starting pitcher Alexis White has been sidelined most of the spring with a leg injury, but she recently returned.

Baca hadn’t pitched in two seasons before filling in for White.

“We’re rebuilding this season with pitching,” Velasquez said. “Losing Alexis was really hard for us. Ashley Baca stepped up to pitch. We had no other pitchers, and Ashley hasn’t pitched in a couple seasons.”

Baca excels at the plate.

“Ashley is probably our best singles hitter,” Velasquez said. “She gets on base pretty much every game. Even though she was getting overworked on the mound, she still contributed on offense.

“We can count on Ashley for anything.”

The Spartan No. 3 hitter, Baca will attend Arizona State in the fall. She hopes to walk on the Sun Devils’ softball team.

“They have a very good softball team,” Baca said. “I will need to work extra hard over the summer to have a good chance of making the team. I’m kind of nervous to move out of state, but I’m excited.”

Leadoff hitter Aylissa Marchand, a senior outfielder, and junior outfielder/first baseman Alexis Mariscal provide speed.

Megan Quantock, a junior outfielder, is also a threat to steal, but she’s nursing an injury.

Luckily for the Spartans, they’re in the midst of a two-week break.

Rio Mesa returns to the diamond on Wed., April 10 against Fillmore at home.

Senior shortstop Sabrina Garcia is one of the top hitters in Ventura County, according to the skipper.

Garcia, a team captain, has received interest from the University of Nebraska and the University Colorado to play collegiate softball.

“Sabrina is fantastic,” Baca said. “I’ve played softball with her for the last six years and she gets better every year. It’s great to have a player like her in the lineup.”

Senior catcher Becca Lucero is having a breakout season behind the dish.

Kayla Hart, Miranda Macen, Brittany Godinez, Amanda Ramirez and Kimberly Miranda contribute for Rio Mesa.

“We have a very good team,” Mariscal said. “It just took us some time to get going and figure some things out.

“We’ll be fine.”

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