There is a lot of new things within the Carson High softball program in 2013.
The first is the leader of the program. Shelby Tuttle has moved up from the JV squad to become head coach after Scott Vickrey resigned following an 18-15 season. Tuttle has a new coaching staff with the addition of Joel Dunn and Keith Allen.
The second is that there are seven new players. The third is that the Senators have moved from the third-base dugout to the third-base dugout. The fourth is that the JV and varsity teams work together for the first 60 minutes of every practice.
Tuttle doesn't want the changes to stop there. He's hoping that bond money can be funneled his way for a dressing room for his players and to be able to cover the batting cages so they can be used even in inclimate weather.
The new-look Senators start playing for real when they travel to Sacramento Thursday for a tournament. Carson will see Woodland, Casa Roble and Whitney before single-elimination pool play begins on Saturday. Those are three tough teams.
"It's a pretty tough pool," Tuttle said. "I wouldn't have it any other way. We're looking forward to it."
The Senators return seven players with varsity experience - first baseman-pitcher Jen Purcell (.430, 37 RBIs), third baseman-pitcher Erica Watson (.353, 1 RBI), catcher-outfielder Kandis Tuttle (.174, 6 stolen bases), shortstop Ellise McGowan (.316, 12 RBI), catcher-outfielder Malia Tiffer (.000, only 6 at-bats), outfielder Michelle Perry (.065, 2 RBIs) and third baseman Rebecka Breuer (.228, 6 RBI).
Up from JV are outfielder Aubrey Northrup, outfielder Skye Simpson, first baseman-outfielder Sara Brewer, pitcher Kaitlyn Jimmy, Megan Goodale and outfielder-pitcher Madison VonDuering. Bailey Allen, a freshman, is slotted to start at second base.
The biggest concern for Tuttle could be the pitching. Christa McGahuey and Lou Ashbaugh graduated. Of the pitchers listed on the roster, only Purcell saw any action, and she appeared in just three games. Purcell and Watson are expected to be the Senators' 1-2 punch with Jimmy, VonDuering and Breuer also expected to see action.
"We want to have strong pitching," Tuttle said. "We're working with the girls we have."
Tuttle will be depending on accuracy to get the job done this year.
"At the lower level you have to be a little more patient," Tuttle said. "At the varsity level you have less opportunity to develop confidence."
Purcell will play first or left field when she's not pitching, while Watson will start at third when she is not in the circle. Allen starts at second and Ellise McGowan takes over for the graduated Emily Collins at shortstop. McGowan started at second last year.
"Ellise has handled it very well," Tuttle said. "She's made the effort to become quicker on the throw; quicker on the transition. Her arm strength is good. Bailey is scrappy and a good ballplayer."
Northrup and Brewer will battle for time in right, Perry will be in center and left field will be up for grabs between VonDuering, Simpson, and whoever doesn't lay catcher between Tuttle and Tiffer.
"We're definitely a different team (hitting-wise)," Tuttle said. "We're very young. I feel we'll come together once the girls see enough (good) pitching and have a chance to adapt to it."
DAYTON HIGH SCHOOL
The Dust Devils are coming off a 12-11 season, which ended with three losses to Fernley by a combined score of 48-2.
Despite an 11-person team which includes five returners, coach Daven Passalacqua is optimistc about the coming season which gets under way with some scrimmage games this weekend in Yerington.
The biggest reason for his optimism is junior pitcher Mikayla Shadle, who unofficially went 7-7 last year with a 1.22 ERA. The right-hander struck out 231 in 108 innings and had a no-hitter against South Tahoe. She had several other wins where she gave up four hits or less.
"We're going to ride on her shoulders," Passalacqua said. "This girl is good and she has a great attitude. She has six or seven pitches now. She's throwing very well. She's playing the game year round (in California during the summer). Personally I think she's the best pitcher in the league. She's throwing in the 60s right now."
Passalacqua believes that she will follow in the footsteps of Kenzie Cole and earn a college scholarship. Cole is currently the No. 2 pitcher at Boise State.
"We're working on our offense," the Dayton coach said. "If we can score a couple of runs every game we'll be in good shape."
Shadle can also help herself at the plate. She hit .469 with 12 RBIs, which was tops on the team.
The Dust Devils also return senior first baseman Cheyanna Burrows, who hit .356 with three RBIs, shortstop Gemma Ramirez (.360, 4 RBIs), second baseman Clare Cerda (.091, 3 RBI) and catcher Kaylee Alexander (.353, 11 RBIs). Catcher-outfielder Ashley Morrison and outfielder-third baseman Kati Nelson saw very limited action on varsity a year ago.
Newcomers are infielder Cheyenne Shoup, freshman pitcher-infielder Lacey Combs, outfielder Hannah Stevenson and outfielder-shortstop Mallory Dickinson.
Shadle and Burrows are expected to provide much of the power.
Passalacqua is happy with the play of his infield, but admitted that the outfielders need some work.