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

Photo credit: Nick Shockey / nshockey.express@gmail.com
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Panthers keep eyes on state championship

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Jostyn Bebout, City College freshman pitcher, at the mound during the team scrimmage game on the softball field. Dianne Rose · [email protected]

Kristopher Hooks | Sports Editor | [email protected]

Big year ahead for City College softball, despite key losses

Statistics make it difficult to form an argument against the winning pedigree of City College’s softball team. In the past three and a half decades, the Panthers have won 26 conference championships and four state championships.

Now in his 20th season as head coach, Tim Kiernan said that he and the rest of his coaching staff are looking to lead the Panthers to another winning season and a fifth state championship.

“Our goal is to win the conference, win the first round of the playoffs, win super regionals and go to state — and win state,” said Kiernan. “That’s the order, and that’s our goal every year. So we’ve got to go out there and take care of business and win the conference.”

Last season, the Panthers saw their successful regular season end in disappointment, when they lost to Big 8 Conference rival Delta College in the second round of the Northern California Super Regional Playoffs.

Going into the 2015 season, the Panthers will be without some key players who transferred to four-year universitiesafter last season’s campaign. With an 18-6 record in 2014, ace pitcher Ashten Welch (Lyon College) led the bullpen in almost all pitching statistics and had an ERA 2.34. The Panthers also lost reliever Jordan Petersen (University of Saint Mary). Erikka Burke, a pitcher in 2014, will be returning, but is now playing first base after injuring the rotator cuff in her throwing shoulder last season.

“I played some first base before, so the transition isn’t that difficult,” said Burke, “but I’ve trained as a pitcher since I’ve been here, so I’m just getting used to it.

”This year’s pitching rotation consists of all freshmen — Morgan Welch (younger sister of Ashten), Jostyn Bebout, Holly McKenzie and Kiley Bair. However, despite their youth they have potential to win many games, according to Kiernan.

“Our pitchers will do fine. They work hard, and we’re teaching them to work smart,” said Kiernan. “They’re young and they’ll make some mistakes, but if we stay healthy, we’ll be good — health is key.”

Because of the youth in the bullpen, Kiernan said he wants to put the ball in play more rather than focus getting on strike outs.

“We want the ball in play so our people can make plays,” said Kiernan. “Our philosophy is to throw strikes, stay ahead of the batters, and get the ball in play so we can make outs.”

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In contrast to last year’s roster, Oliver said that this team has more unity, which makes her optimistic about the season.

“Because I feel like we’re a stronger and more connected team this year, my expectations are real high,” said Oliver. “I feel like we’re more bonded, we’re stronger,we’re faster, and more athletic.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Panthers lose some big hitters in Mickey Loveridge (Liberty University), Morgan Green (Eastern New Mexico University)
and Megan Winton (Southern Oregon). Combined, the three of them led the team in seven hitting statistical categories,
including batting average, home runs and doubles.

However, despite the losses, Kiernan said he expects the team to be better in power, speed, and defense. Depending on the in-game situation, the team can rely
on different players that have multiple skill sets, something that will be needed in the tough Big 8 Conference, he added.

Last season, the conference saw four of the eight teams advance to the playoffs, including the eventual state champion Sierra College.

“Everybody in our conference is good,” said Kiernan. “We have the strongest conference in the state — the Big 8.So you can’t let up for any conference
games. They’re always strong.”Although they lost some key players, the unity of the team should allow for a better season than last year, said Kiernan.

“As a team we’re stronger than last year — we’re on the same page. Last year,we had several ‘me’ players. This year,I do not see that. We have good bonding
in the team,” Kiernan said. “They take constructive criticism real well. They’re eager to learn and eager to win. It’s very refreshing — it’s the way it’s supposed to
be.”

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