Area squads eyeing playoffs

Jeff Tully

Burroughs High’s Jennifer Gomez might be feeling like the elder

statesman of local high school softball coaches.

Although Gomez is in just her third season with the Indians, she


has the longest tenure of any of the four area coaches.

While Gomez is just working out the final details about the makeup

of her squad, Burbank, Bellarmine-Jefferson and Providence are still

adjusting to new coaches and a crop of new players.


Here is a look as how the season is shaping up:


The biggest loss for the Indians (15-11, 4-6 in the Foothill

League) is the departure of Sara Larquier, who is playing for the

University of Virginia. However, the team has enough returning talent

to put together a successful season.

“The great thing about this team is that we’re all starting to gel

already,” senior pitcher Dani Regan said.


Regan was Burroughs’ workhorse in 2002, throwing 184 1/3 innings

with a 15-10 record, an 0.80 earned-run average, 131 strikeouts and 21 complete games.

The backup pitcher is freshman Sara Budrick, who is an experienced

travel ball player for the Valley Breeze. Gomez expects Budrick to

make an instant impact with her bat, and at shortstop, when she’s not


The team’s other returning all-league player is senior outfielder

Ryanne Hodgins, who has committed to the University of New Mexico.


She batted .377 last season and led the Indians with 29 hits.

Other returning impact players are junior first baseman Val Rico,

junior outfielder Janette Galindo and catcher Lisa Dennis.

In Foothill League competition, Gomez said this could be the

season Burroughs breaks through and is a factor in league.

“In the last two years, we have proven we can play in this

league,” Gomez said. “We are very confident that we are going to do

well and make the playoffs.”


Coach Ken Schafer takes over the Bulldog program from popular

former Coach Debby Day.

“You just don’t replace someone like Coach Day,” Schafer said.

“She is such a good coach and she did so much for the program when

she was here.”

Schafer said he is still getting to know his players and is in the

process of shifting things around before nonleague play begins.

“We have only three seniors and three juniors on the team right

now,” he said. “And all the rest are sophomores. We don’t have any


“But these girls are really working hard and they seem to work

well together.”

The cornerstone of the Burbank (11-16, 0-10) team is catcher

Kristin Talamantes, a hard-hitting senior who has already taken a

recruiting trip to University of Mississippi. Schafer said he will

not only look to Talamantes for her athletic ability, but as a team

leader as well.

Junior Cassidi McCarty returns and will likely be the No. 1

pitcher. McCarty is a success story and has successfully battled

Hodgkin’s disease.

Sophomores Jillian Schafer and Kim Peraza should also be impact

players, as should outfielders junior Gina Bushey, sophomore Andy

Diaz and senior Amy Acuna.


Coach Pete Bova and assistant Nick Schepperle bring a fresh,

winning attitude to the Guards.

“We really want to build up this program and make it a winner,”

Bova said. “There has been a lot of instability with the program over

the years, and we want to help Bell-Jeff get back on track and put

them on the map with softball.

Returning from a 2002 season in which the Guards went 2-18 is

senior all-league catcher Theresa Reyes.

Also returning is third baseman Ester Diaz.

New to the program is senior pitcher Veronica Ortega, who is a

transfer from Glendale. Another newcomer is junior pitcher Francine


Also new for Bell-Jeff this season is its league, as the Guards

move from the Camino Real League to the Sunshine League.


First-year Pioneer Coach Maggie Blaha likes the position she has

inherited. Providence (12-11, 8-2) is the defending Liberty League

champion and the team returns a large group.

“We have 12 players returning from last season, so I am really

happy with that,” said Blaha, who will carry a squad of 18 players.

“It looks like we have a lot of talent and we should have a very good


In 2002, the Pioneers began 0-2 in league and then rattled off

eight straight wins to claim the title.

A big part of the turnaround was attributed to pitcher Candace

Koeth, who is back for her senior year. Koeth was the co-Liberty

League Player of the Year with a 13-9 record and a 1.95 earned-run


Also returning is sophomore shortstop Sonia Nuno, a first-team

all-league selection who hit better than .400 last season.

In the race for the league championship, Blaha said one team

should be considered the front-runner.

“Since we have so many returning players, and we were champions

last season, I see no reason why we shouldn’t be considered as the

favorite to win the league,” she said.