Softball Preview: Improved pitching the key to 2018 seasoncsudhbulletin February 7, 2018 0 COMMENTS
Senior Alyssa Valinches looks to anchor to Toro pitching staff. Photo by Kyle Umeda.
By Imani Johnson
Coming off a 2017 season in which the team struggled to an 8-45 record, CSUDH softball coach Kim Aggabao says pitching is the area she feels the team has most improved.
“We’re very confident in our pitching staff this year,” said Aggabao, who is returning for her fifth season as the Lady Toros head coach. The Toros begin conference play this weekend, with four games against Humboldt State University.
Senior pitcher Alyssa Valinches (Corona, Centennial High School) returns to the mound this season. As a junior, she appeared in 10 games, including seven starts. She posted a team low 5.08 ERA (the team had a cumulative ERA of 10.29) and finished the season with 31.2 innings pitched. She is expected to be the Toro’s top leader on and off the field, Aggabao said.
“She’s taken the younger pitchers under her wing by helping them grow, understand the process, and communicating with them that the pitchers have to have each other’s back,” Aggabao said. “She’s done a great job this fall and we are expecting her to continue that.”
Also returning to the rotation is sophomore Jade Loe, who attended Los Alamitos High School and started eight games last season, including two complete games.
Newcomers to the pitching staff include two freshmen: Alyssa Olague, from Whittier High School, who was awarded pitcher of the year in the Del Rio League; and Chloe Wenger, of Ayala High School in Chino Hills. Both are expected to add depth to the rotation, Aggabao said.
On the offensive side, top returning players include juniors Jazmin Guzman, who hit .339 last season and Damari Simon, of San Jose, who hit .322 and led the team with 31 walks and 30 runs scored. Sophomore Loe, is also expected to be a top offensive performer, Aggabao said, as she was second on the team last season in home runs and runs batted in.
The team began its season with five road games in Las Vegas and returns home Friday, Feb. 9 at noon, for the start of a four-game series against conference rival Humboldt State. The teams will play doubleheaders Friday, beginning at noon, and Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m.
“We love whenever we get to play at home,” said Aggabao. “We love our facility, we love when our fans get to come out and watch us. Our mindset is to protect home field, have pride in playing at home, and no matter who we are playing, [we come out] with a bunch of confidence and play together as a team.”