One year after making the postseason, Santa Barbara City College‘s softball team retooled its roster with just two returners and 18 freshmen. The Vaqueros started strong, winning their first eight Western State Conference games and ending up third in conference play at 13-12, three games out of a playoff berth.

“That demonstrates the transition that most community colleges go through,” 10th-year coach Paula Congleton said. “One year you’re on top and going to the playoffs, the next year, you’re third in the conference.”

SBCC boasted the best offensive attack in the WSC Gold Division with a .348 batting average and a conference-leading 118 stolen bases. The Vaqueros were led by freshman Jennifer Mosier,  who ranked No. 2 in overall WSC hitting (.509), No. 1 in doubles and No. 2 in stolen bases. Other top performers were second baseman Erin Breck, the WSC’s sixth-leading hitter at .414; Kasie Muro (.379 average, three home runs); and San Marcos High product Sonja Crawford (.355).

“From the first day of practice to the last, the players put the team first,” Congleton said. “They worked hard each day, and as the season progressed, many of them became better students of the game.”

The Vaqueros landed four players on the first-team All-WSC team and one on the second team. Mosier, a freshman first baseman from Simi Valley, had a dream season with her .509 average, two HRs, 17 doubles and 28 steals. She was first-team All-WSC, first team All-Southern California and has been nominated to the National Fastpitch All-American team.

Other first-teamers were sophomore center-fielder Michelle Diaz, a two-time All-WSC first teamer; Breck; and pitcher Gabby Garza. Muro, a freshman catcher, made the second team while Crawford, pitcher Kristina Sewell and shortstop Vanessa Crook were honorable mention.

SBCC had big wins over Bakersfield, Pasadena, Cuesta, Ventura and East L.A. in the early going, helping them to an 8-0 WSC start. “We had four of the top 10 hitters in conference, and Kristina Sewell (9-9, 3.05 ERA, 60 Ks) and Gabby Garza (7-3, 2.34 ERA) pitched well for us this season,” Congleton said.

Congleton, who has a .575 winning percentage, is excited about the 2009 campaign, when most of her freshmen will be back.

“I am looking forward to a great season next year as we will be returning 15 of our 18 freshmen, plus we are adding some new recruits on the mound (two pitchers), plus four infielders and four outfielders,” she said.

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

WSC     GB     Season

Cuesta         19-6     —      29-18

Oxnard         16-9       3       27-21

SBCC         13-12     6       22-24

Moorpark     11-14     8       16-28

Ventura       10-15     9       16-30

Pierce           8-17     11       16-25

Hancock         1-24     18       2-35