The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Panther softball infield shows skill, leadership

Finely manicured grass, smoothly raked infield dirt, bright white chalk lines and the Panthers softball team huddled up in a pre-game chant while San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh’s “Who’s got it better than us?” chant blasts over the public address system. This is the usual Panthers’ ritual before every home game at City College. Infielder Stephanie Bagwell is in the center of the huddle helping get the team fired up.

Bagwell, a sophomore at City College, is the Panthers’ starting second baseman. She was born in Berkley and when she was 10 her family moved to Fairfield where she went on to play four years of varsity softball at Vanden High School.

Bagwell said she was inspired to play softball at a young age.

“Growing up I watched a lot of PAC 10 [softball] and every year I had a new favorite player,” said Bagwell. “My mom and I went to the College Softball World Series in Oklahoma and it really inspired me.”

However, softball was not Bagwell’s first sport.

“I started playing softball at 10 but before that I played baseball,” said Bagwell.

Out of high school Bagwell was recruited by a handful of schools including Sacramento City College. She ultimately chose to go out of state to play for St. Leo University in Florida, a division II private Catholic university. She played one year, the 2012-2013 season before deciding to leave the school and return home.

“I was promised things by the coach and he didn’t follow through with them,” said Bagwell of her decision to leave St. Leo. “I didn’t want to waste years because your time is limited as a softball player.”

Back in California, Bagwell still wanted to play softball, so she reached out to one of the coaches that had recruited her out of high school.

“She had called me and said are you still interested in me and I told her absolutely,” said City College softball Head Coach Tim Kiernan. “Now she’s here and she’s doing a good job.”

So far this season Bagwell has started 22 games, recorded 11 RBIs, and has a batting average of .308. Bagwell combined with short-stop Mickey Loveridge to sure up the middle of the infield defensively for the Panthers. According to the California Community College Association Bagwell ranks No. 19 overall and No. 8 in the Big 8 Conference in double plays turned.

“She’s fundamentally good,” said Kiernan. “We’ve always led the area in double plays turned and she fits right in.”
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Bagwell’s teammate Loveridge says the working relationship between a short-stop and second baseman plays a major role on the defense.

“The chemistry between the middle infielders is the most important on the field,” said Loveridge. “Trust and communication is huge when we each have a play up the middle to know which one of us is going to be there.”

Loverage says the two infielders have built their chemistry over time on and off the field and believes it’s Bagwell’s positive attitude that makes her a great teammate and friend.

“We’ve known each other from playing travel [softball] when we were younger and have a friendship instead of just being players on the field,” said Loverage. “She a good team player and leader, she’s always positive and she always stays focused with her mind in the game.”

Bagwell and a handful of sophomore players assume the leadership roles on the team for the Panthers. She uses her experience and knowledge of the game to be a strong leader.

“She really knows and understands the game,” said Kiernan. “She’s very intelligent, works hard, and leads by example.”

Bagwell said she didn’t find it hard to transition from a Division II school to a community college although there are some major differences when it comes to the level of pitching or relationships between other players on the team.

“The atmosphere of a junior college is a lot bigger than the university, not living in dorms makes a difference in your relationships but I think it makes players more committed to playing because they have to make the commute to and from school,” said Bagwell.

Bagwell is working toward an associate’s degree in Social Science but says when she’s done with softball she would like to go into the sports field, working in sports management, broadcasting, or athletic training.

Bagwell’s on-field efforts at City College this year have proven fruitful. The Panthers are currently in second place in the Big 8 Conference. They are only one game behind first place Sierra College and look to overtake them and make a strong playoff push. However, Bagwell says she tries not to focus solely on winning or losing.

“Winning is important but at the end of the day you can play a great game and still lose,” said Bagwell. “It’s not always about winning and losing it’s about the process of getting better.”

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