Softball turns in solid season, looks forward

The San Diego City College softball team finished their season with an overall record of 18-19-1. The Lady Knights placed third in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, going 9-6 against conference opponents.

“Our record is not a reflection of the ability of this team,” head coach LeeAnn Taylor said. “They never stopped. They kept fighting.”

In early February, the squad posted a 1-7-1 record, but the Lady Knights turned their season around by winning seven out of the next eight games.

“At that point in the season, things seemed to be all bad for us as a team,” sophomore pitcher Hannah Shafer said. “But we kept believing.”

On Feb. 22, Shafer pitched a perfect game for the Knights, retiring all 18 batters she faced. She struck out five and forced the other 13 batters to ground out.

“Hannah is a very strong and confident athlete,” assistant coach Cheryl Schaefer said. “Her presence has meant a lot to the program her two years here.”

Sophomore infielder Ashley Whitmore was also crucial for the Lady Knights throughout the entire season. She led the team in batting average and runs batted.

Whitmore also played a pivotal role on City’s womens volleyball team this year as an outside hitter.

“Whit is highly respected for her mental toughness,” Taylor said.

After a slow February start, the Lady Knights capped the month of March off with a 6-6 record and went into conference play determined to win a conference championship.

“Every year my coaching staff and I go into the season with intentions of winning a conference title,” Taylor said. “Winning your conference says a lot about your program, players and coaching staff.”

The Lady Knights began conference play by winning their first three games, with stellar performances by the pitching staff.

The day after Shafer pitched a perfect game, freshman pitcher Dena Young pitched a one-hitter in a 13-0 win over conference rival Southwestern College.

In conference play this season, Young posted a 5-2 record and was an important factor in City being a contender for the championship. She led the team with 83 strikeouts and nine victories.

Taylor described Young as a fierce competitor who gives her all on and off the field.

Young pitched 116 innings this season, which was also a team high.

As a team, the Lady Knights had a very productive season that won’t show in their record.

“We crushed the ball this year,” Taylor said. “Our lineup was balanced from top to bottom.”

The Lady Knights had a 9-3 conference record before losing the final three games of the season. They barely missed the postseason after a slow start, but the future seems bright for next year’s squad.

Taylor’s team will be making another run at the conference title when she enters her eighth season as head coach in the fall of 2012.

“I’m looking forward for what’s to come,” Taylor said with a smile. “Expectations are high every season.”