For most of the high school softball teams in San Luis Obispo County, pitching will not be a problem.
Arroyo Grandes Jill Compton might be the biggest name in the county, thanks to her signing with Division I powerhouse Fresno State.
And Nipomo, which shared the Los Padres League title last season with Morro Bay with 9-3 records, will welcome back junior Courtney Cuzick, a pitcher whom Titans coach Matt Paradis said is already in talks with top colleges.
Over the last few years weve seen outstanding pitching in the PAC 7, San Luis Obispo coach Mike Lee said. This year will be no exception. Almost every team in the league is fortunate to have an ace with the likes of Compton of Arroyo Grande leading the way.
Compton will be feared. Shes the reigning Tribune County Player of the Year, and she hopes to guide the Eagles to back-to-back PAC 7 titles. The Eagles, however, arent a complete team yet. Three of their players are on the schools girls basketball team that is making a deep state playoff run.
But first, the Eagles softball team knows itll be a challenge to repeat in the PAC 7.
I say that its not going to be easy, Arroyo Grande coach Kristin Ciecek said. Our league is very competitive. Every game you cant take for granted. Every day we gotta come to play but our goal is to win league again.
St. Joseph, Paso Robles and Atascadero which all tied for second behind Arroyo Grande (8-4) last season with 7-5 records will once again be competitive. Paso Robles will have senior shortstop Kellie Reynolds and junior pitcher Jenna Wookey to lead the way, and Atascadero (12-0) has a deep lineup with six returning starters, including returning first-team all-county pitcher Ashlee Reusche and catcher Jessie Hufstetler, whos headed to San Jose State.
San Luis Obispo is also considered a league contender with junior Andrea Reynolds, a first-team all-county pitcher.
In the LPL, both Nipomo and Morro Bay have deep returning classes.
So that means theres a good chance that both teams might share the league title again, especially considering theyre both returning key starters. Cuzick will lead Nipomo, and Morro Bay returns outfielder Kylie Gacad, catcher Allison Lamb, second baseman Tia Gacad and shortstop Jasmine Singh, who are first team all-county players.
The reigning league champions will get the first glimpse of each other today, when they meet for the LPL opener at Morro Bay at 4 p.m.
I like our lineup, Morro Bay coach Roger Pelletier said. Its nice being able to write in your lineup the same people in the same spots as last year and you dont have to worry about them being inexperienced. They know. Theyve been here before.
We anticipate a fight for the league championship and as defending league champions, well go into league expecting to repeat, Nipomos Paradis said.
Templeton will look to redeem itself from a 4-17 season in 2011.
In the Coast Valley League, Coastal Christian is coming off an 11-1 season. Sevelyn Van Ronk, a returning all-county honorable mention selection, will lead the Conquerors. Mission Prep, just like Arroyo Grande, will have late arrivals because of the schools girls basketball teams run in the state playoffs.
But its a long season.
I think its going to be down to the last couple games this year, Paso Robles coach Val Reynolds said. Its a matter of who peaks at the right time.