Coast Union head softball coach Steve Kniffen has had to juggle his lineup recently to allow for players with other commitments. His players are also involved with the school musical “Back to The ’80s” (which opens Friday night, March 31), with FFA activities and with work responsibilities.
Still, fresh off their first win of the season (March 17 against Avenal), the team is learning the game Kniffen’s way, and he spends time instilling in the players that they don’t want to be the first Lady Broncos softball team to lose the Coast Valley League in six years.
“We don’t want to be the group that loses that,” Kniffen stated.
“I like applying pressure. It is an allegory that transfers over to real life.”
Meanwhile Kniffen mentions several of his players who have emerged as leaders on the team. Holly McHaffie and Ailyn Casas are picking up skills and strategies like “a sponge,” Kniffen explained.
Alyssa Drew “plays all over the field … and is one of the players that truly understands the game.”
The strongest offensive player on his team is Serena Valenzuela, the coach said.
“She could hit one out one day. … It’s a poke to clear the old fence at Scott Rock Park” (the softball field), but Kniffen thinks she could do it.
Valenzuela has been sharing pitching duties with Ani Corbet, who pitched very well in the win against Avenal, Kniffen said.
Zoe Markham is a speedy player doing well but “just needs to relax and let her athleticism take control.” And Kniffen’s two catchers (Angelique Gutierrez and Drew) are sharing the duties effectively, he explained.
Markham in fact leads the team in runs scored (six) and has four hits and four RBI thus far. Drew has four hits and has scored five runs. Valenzuela has seven hits and has the highest batting average on the team, .368. Corbet has six hits and is hitting at a .286 clip so far.
On Monday, March 27, the Lady Broncos entertained the Templeton JV softball team, and Coast was outscored 13-1. Kniffen said his team didn’t begin to get the bat on the ball until late in the game. “Repetition is invaluable,” he said.
“The team just needs game experience. The more we play, the better it gets,” said Kniffen, in his first year of coaching Coast Union softball.
The Lady Broncos were originally scheduled to play Laton High School on Wednesday, March 29, but Laton scrubbed that game from its schedule, so Coast Union takes a 1-9 record into Coast Valley League play next week.
The next home games for the Lady Broncos should be games they will be more competitive in because they play schools that match the size of Coast Union. They play Coast Valley League opponent Coastal Christian onThursday, March 30; and they play CVL foe Shandon on Tuesday April 4, both are 3:30 games.
The next home games for the Lady Broncos: Coast Valley League opponent Coastal Christian on Thursday, March 30; and CVL foe Shandon on Tuesday, April 4, both 3:30 p.m. games.