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Depth Will Be Key for SBCC Softball

Heralded recruits expand options all around for Vaqueros.

Paula Congleton wasn’t going to let history repeat itself after going through most of the 2007 season with just 12 players. SBCC‘s 10th-year softball coach hit the recruiting trail in earnest and brought in a whopping 18 freshmen.

"Our strength comes from the depth of this year’s team," said Congleton, who guided her 2006 squad to the Southern Cal Regionals. "We have two or three players per position. We have three very talented pitchers.

"We’re working hard and are excited about the potential to achieve great things. Peter Aguilar, our strength and conditioning coach, has been working the players out, emphasizing speed, power and agility."

Center fielder Michelle Diaz and shortstop Vanessa Crook are the lone returners for the Vaqueros, who went 15-27 overall last year and took fourth in the WSC North with a 10-15 record. Diaz was a first-team All-WSC selection while Crook was honorable mention.

Topping the list of newcomers is Sonja Crawford, a first-team All-Channel League catcher from San Marcos High who’s moving to third base. Kasie Muro, a four-time all-league player in high school, will handle the catching duties. Brianne Bagwell, Jennifer Fontan, Vanessa Gutierrez and Sierra Van Olphen are talented freshmen who all played on the California Mirage 18-Under travel ball team.

Four hurlers will spend time in the circle: Barbie Clemons, Gabby Garza, Cierra Lard and Kristina Sewell (Nipomo High). Garza will also play right field while Clemons is a true utility player, who’s expected to play first base and catcher.

The outfield will be patroled by Erin Breck (Thousand Oaks High), Alaura Contreras, Sara Gurchinoff (Lompoc High), Jessie Mahn (Thousand Oaks High), Jennifer Mosier (Royal High in Simi Valley) and Mitchelle Tabone (Oak Park High). Breck batted over .400 in her high school career.

Breck and Gurchinoff will see most of their action at second base. Bianca Alvarez (Oxnard High) is a solid threat on offense and defense.

"We need to stay healthy, train hard and stay focused," Congleton said. "It is a long season which requires a steady but diligent effort each day in the classroom and on the field."

SBCC is off to a strong start with a 6-2 record.

"I think we can challenge for the WSC title and get back to the playoffs," Congleton concluded. "Each player recognizes the potential we have, challenging other players as well as themselves to maintain their sound fundamentals and continue their development as students of the game."

Dave Loveton is Santa Barbara City College‘s sports information specialist.

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