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Kofa eyeing return to playoffs
Take it to the kingdom — that's the motto the Kofa softball team has lived by for the past three seasons. And for the three senior members of the Kings roster, this year it carries more meaning than ever.
“It's kind of the start of our game and it gets us pumped up,” senior second baseman Miranda Brookhart said. “It's what we say when we're talking about bringing home the win — that's basically what it means.”
The Kings will be looking for all the wins they can get as they hope to make another state playoff appearance this season. Kofa finished with an 8-10 record after stunning No. 8 Alhambra in an elimination game last year, its only postseason win.
The key to repeating that success? Talking to each other out on the diamond, said senior right fielder Letty Aguiar. “We just need to communicate more.”
Brookhart agreed, saying she believes the lack of communication is rooted in the team's fresh faces feeling slightly intimidated by the veteran players.
“If we're (the seniors) not talking, then nobody is talking,” Brookhart said. “Our team does look up to us to do that, especially the new girls who haven't been on this field. They kind of don't want to talk because they think we'll think they're trying to take over or something. So us opening our mouths and telling them talk helps out a lot.”
The seniors will have a big leadership role to fill as the Kings roster is full of newcomers and underclassmen — including freshmen shortstop Sally Gastelo and Annette Jirkova, a foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic who will also be playing shortstop for the Kings.
“We have some experience but then we have some inexperience,” Kings coach Emma Watson said. “I had to replace six players. I lost three last year and replaced those three with six new ones. Out of those six, I have three of them that will be starting. I'm hoping we do well this year.”
Watson said she is relying on her seniors to guide the younger players in the right direction.
“I've had them for four years, they've been starters for four years. I've had them since they we're freshmen. ... I'm hoping they really step up and show the younger girls what to do and what to expect.”
But even with all the new additions to the Kings lineup, senior centerfield Amanda Young said the team is gelling nicely.
“I think we have a good team chemistry, we all get along good,” Young said. “I'm expecting to have a good team this year, I think we'll do good this year.”
The Kings are faced with the challenge of replacing their starting pitching as well as trying to generate some runs to back up their pitchers.
“Our weakness has always been our hitting,” Watson said. “From what I've seen the last couple days of practice, the girls are looking well hitting. I'm hoping that's going to come along this year and get us out of some jams. That's what kind of got us in trouble last year was some of our hitting.”
But the main goal, Brookhart said, is offense.
“The main goal is to have the highest batting average. We don't really pay attention to our defensive percentage, but the highest batting average. Then there's the Rotary team, first team and second team and making it to state. There's so much to look forward to. I mean all of those are goals and if we keep all of those as goals, we have a better chance of reaching them.”