By Joshua Samuel, Cecilia Juarez, Nathanial Lowery and Omar Hassoun
Last season: 15-37; 11-29 in conference
Key Departures: Doreen Corella, outfielder (.288 BA, 15 RBI, .386 slugging 38 hits); Kayla Lock, outfielder, (.273 BA, 16 RBI, .355 Slugging, 14 sacrifice hits); Alyssa Valinches, pitcher, (25 starts 3.46 ERA 129 strikeouts, three shutouts and 20 complete games).
Key returners: Rachael Sandoval, senior, catcher (started 52 games, .331 BA 56 hits, 13 doubles, five home runs, 29 RBI, nine caught stealing base); Jazmin Guzman infielder, senior, (started 38 games, led team with a .342 batting average, 21 runs and six RBI, 22 walks .450 on-base percentage, 14 multi-hit games).Jessica Lane junior, outfielder (35 starts .275 BA, 28 hits, six doubles, four triples, 17 runs).
Notes: In October, CSUDH’s winningest softball coach, Jim Maier, was named as head coach for the program he led from 2001 to 2013, including a conference championship in 2005. He said one of the key reasons he rejoined the school was the presence of assistance Katie Garcia, and Stephanie Guerra, both of whom Maier is keeping as assistants.
He returns to a program that hasn’t had a winning season since he left. But the team lost only four seniors from last year and with six freshman and two transfer students, he said that the mix of returning players and new blood means a massive overhaul is not needed.
“It’s not so much of a change,” said Maier. “It is more of just bringing things back to the way it used to be here. Just revising the program, we had from the early 2000s until 2014 and trying [to] bring back the whole philosophy back.”
Maier was named head coach only in October, and he said the biggest challenge is putting a “team together in such a short [period] of time and to be able to compete as fast as we possibly can.”
Track & Field
Last season: 4×100 relay team finished third at CCAA Championships; Chloe Ramos broke school record twice in triple jump; five top 10 finishes at Pomona Pitzer Invitational; Mariah Walker won 100-meter sprint at SF State Distance Carnival; four team members named to CCAA all-academic team.
Key Departure: Daisy Alvarado, Viktoria Arreola, Tyrana Beasley, Delfina Benitez, Daeniesha Burrell, Stacy Holmes
Key Returners: Karla Angulo sophomore, Monique Davis junior, Brooke Garrett sophomore, A’jah Grant senior, Breana Jacobs, junior.
Notes: The track and field squad will participate in four indoor meets and two outdoor meets before the NCAA championship in March. The first meet is an indoor event on Jan. 12 in Boise, and the last is the Cal State LA Invitation, March 1-2.
With only four girls returning, the track and field team is looking at a completely new squad. “I’m putting the pieces of the puzzle together to formulate a good relay team, said head coach Warren Edmonson. “We are known for our relays.”
The squad this year recruited a Division 1 transfer Yulinda Sam from Poly High School in Riverside, who is a long jumper as well as a sprinter. With the team’s new recruits, Edmonson said he believes that the team will make some noise when compared to the past few seasons, which he described as “quiet.” In fact, he says the team may come close to his best in 2011. And Edmondson knows best. Now in his 17th year at CSUDH, he has coached 34 All-Americans, including three-time Olympic medalist Carmelita Jeter.
Key Returners: Andrew Banuelos, senior (led team in scoring last year, average +3, three top-10 finishes); Reynard Belmonte, junior (+5 scoring average, two top-10 finishes).
Season Update: Unlike other sports that play in the spring, the Toros’ golf team began teeing it up this fall. The team finished third of eight in the Sonoma State University Invitational in September, finished 21st in a 27-team field in the Trailblazer Fall Regional in October, and 13th of 15th in the Dennis Rose Invitational in Hawaii. Andrew Banuelos’ has been the highest finisher each tournament, including a sixth-place finish in the first event of the year, but keep an eye on junior transfer Dylan Hall who won the state championship in Colorado all four years in high school, and won the state championship at Cypress College last year.
Last season: 18-32; 14-29, in conference
Key Departures: Esteban Ortega, catcher (50 starts, .292 BA, nine HR, 37 RBI); Dalton Duarte, 1B, (16 HR, 39 RBI, all-conference selection).
Key Returners: Kai Gomez, junior infielder (46 starts, third in RBIs, fourth in hits); Stephen Kish, sophomore outfielder (.441 slugging percentage, .435 on base percentage); Kevin Lugo, senior first baseman (.378 slugging, .396 OBP); Ian Codina, junior pitcher (4-2, 4.02 ERA).
Notes: While the Toros lost two big presences in their lineup from last year, Ortega and Duarte, fourth-year coach Tyler Wright is confident that the team can improve on its last-place conference finish last season.
The team looks to rely on pitcher Ian Codina who proved consistency on the mound with a 4.05 ERA over 22 appearances, well below the overall team ERA of 6.35. Infielder Kai Gomez also looks to improve on his performance last year, batting .249 AVG with 23 RBIs.
“Kai Gomez had a large role for us last year and we are hoping to see him continue to improve and become a ‘gold glove’ caliber center fielder,” Wright said.
He also noted a big issue last season was defense. A young infield consisting of true freshman lad to some inconsistencies on the field. But the maturity and experience gained from last year have led to much optimism coming into 2019, Wright said.
“I’m excited about our athleticism and that we have really improved on the defensive side from last year. We believe we should make a big jump forward this year and are excited to see what happens beginning in February,” Wright said.
The hard work put into the offseason will be put to the test as Holy Names University will host the Toros in their first series of the year Feb. 1-3.
The Toros’ first home game is Feb. 5 against Concordia University, and they start conference action Feb. 15 at home against Cal Poly Pomona.
Photo by gotoros.com