Cambrian: Sports

Coast Union softball team uses spring break to hone skills

Spring break may be all fun and hanging out for student athletes, but for the coaches trying to keep their teams in tip-top form during the week off, it’s not that much fun at all.

Ask softball coach Steve Kniffen, and he says even up to spring break, with absences, “It’s been tough.” He explains that some of his younger players forget fundamentals “from day to day, let alone a week.”

About half of his team is gone this week on an FFA trip, and that makes it challenging for the Lady Broncos to be ready to play at Valley Christian Academy, currently scheduled for Tuesday, April 25.

The last game the Lady Broncos played was Tuesday, April 11, an exhibition game against the parents of players. Kniffen said, “People loved it … it was a fabulous baseball experience that we will do every year as long as I coach. It teaches community.” The parents won, 6-3, but the bigger point is that “It was very fun,” Kniffen said.

Meanwhile Kniffen’s assistant coach, Eddie Ortiz (Serena and Keana Valenzuela’s grandfather), reported on the team’s performance in a phone interview. He was asked how the softball team is handling winning lopsided games in the Coast Valley League after losing by huge margins against big schools in the preseason.

“Now that the shoe is on the other foot, our players understand what it’s like to lose big, and are showing really good restraint by keeping the score down. Their attitude is really good.”

Even through those rough early games, the team kept being positive, Ortiz explained. And now that they’re deep into the CVL season, the hard work at practices and that positive approach are paying off, the coach continued.

“Now, we’ve been getting really good pitching, and we do make some mistakes on defense but we’re rectifying that in our practices. We work on fundamentals all the time, but now we’re trying to get them to work on hitting the ball well.

“We’re going to see better pitching in the playoffs, so we keep them focused on the fundamentals of hitting: not dropping the hands; not pulling the head; and going up there swinging hard at every pitch,” Ortiz said.

The team has several games on the road before returning home against Valley Christian Academy at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 11.