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Top-ranked Pioneers remaining grounded

Jeff Tully

Providence High Coach Maggie Boozel probably wouldn’t mind if her

players wore their batting helmets even when they aren’t playing



Although the headgear might raise a few eyebrows at church on

Sundays, and the green color could be tough to match when the players

shop for prom dresses, the helmets would serve a purpose -- to keep

the Pioneers’ heads from getting too big.


The players likely won’t have to revert to restrictive cranial

devises to keep them from getting too overconfident, that’s what

Boozel is for.

The first-year coach is trying to help her team stay focused in

the wake of a successful season, and is keeping the players grounded

in the light of the Pioneers’ No. 1 ranking in CIF Southern Section

Division VI.

“I don’t want them thinking too much about polls and things like


that,” Boozel said. “You can never tell with polls and we want to

make sure that we don’t start getting overconfident because we are

ranked first.

“We still have a long season to go and we have only played one

[Liberty] League game.”

With a wealth of talent and a cohesive group, Providence has been

able to defeat all but one opponent this season, compiling a 7-1



The Pioneers’ loss came March 8 in the Pasadena Westridge

Tournament. In a championship-round game against El Segundo, the

Pioneers were defeated, 1-0, in an eight-inning game that had to be

decided by an international tie-breaker.

“And when it came down to it, we lost on a throwing error,” Boozel

said. “El Segundo is a great team with a great pitcher.

“But we need to see what else we can do against the good teams. We

have seemed to do well against the teams we were suppose to do well

against. I just want to see us do well against some of the better


Boozel and assistant coach Jay Creps have brought a lot of

softball knowledge -- along with a great deal of confidence -- to the

Providence program. Boozel used to coach in the Valencia program for

the Foothill League powerhouse Vikings.

Creps is also familiar with big-time softball, as his daughter --

Jaisa -- is a senior star at Valencia and has committed to UCLA.

“Jay really knows a lot about softball,” Boozel said. “I am lucky

to have him here with me.”

When Providence was searching for a new coach, Pioneer Athletic

Director Andrew Bencze said he was impressed by Boozel’s knowledge

and her enthusiasm about coaching young players.

“Maggie is a really good coach who knows her softball,” Bencze

said. “We know she will help our program grow and we’re hoping she

will be around for a long time.”

What has helped the Pioneers thrive is a great pitching duo. Last

season, senior Candice Koeth was the only thrower the Pioneers had.

However, with the addition of freshman Lauren Suedkamp, the team now

has a formidable one-two punch.

Koeth is 4-0 and Suedkamp is 3-1 with three saves.

“It’s a great combo with Candice and Lauren,” Boozel said. “Koeth

has the experience and she throws hard, and Lauren is a great

junk-ball pitcher who can fool a lot of hitters.”

On offense, the team is blessed with a fine group of hitters.

Leading the way is senior infielder Shannon Hayes, who has a .473

batting average.

A pleasant surprise this season has come with the play of Danielle

Austin, who is batting .318.

The two are by no means the only offensive threats for the

Pioneers, as hitters Liz Roche, Sonia Nuno, Stephanie Cowan, Sarah

Anderson, Kathryn James-Jolly and Stephanie Blair are capable of

doing some damage.

Trying to forget about their No. 1 ranking, Boozel said a top

priority this season is to repeat as Liberty League champions.

And the goals don’t stop there.

“The team went two games into the playoffs last season,” she said.

“So we want to go a little farther this season. We always want to

keep improving on what we’ve already accomplished.”