Vaqueros proved value in WSC

Currently enjoying a run to the Southern California Super Regionals, the Glendale Community College softball team earned its postseason berth with an outstanding campaign in the Western State Conference.

The Vaqueros (27-13) locked up their first playoff appearance since 2002 by going 12-6 in the conference's Blue Division to finish second behind College of the Canyons. As a result, the team garnered a considerable share of conference accolades, as voted on by the conference's coaches, led by a trio of first-team selections for pitcher Brandy Morin, first baseman Kitty Nguyen and outfielder Nancy Pinedo.

"It's been very fun. We all work together as a team and our bonding is great," said Morin, whose teammates Jena Kaser, Carley Zabka were named to the second team and joined by Casey Nicodemus and Adrienne Lozano as honorable mentions. "One of the reasons we have such a good team is our friendship is so much better than it was the year before. I think we were able to play as a team more than anything."

Morin went 20-11 with a 3.26 earned-run average on the year and led the conference in innings pitched with 194. She also batted .432 with 11 stolen bases.

"She's all-conference first team and she deserves everything about it," Vaqueros Coach Dave "Hawk" Wilder said. "Her hitting has been absolutely fantastic, which really helps us. In fact, if she wasn't really our only pitcher, she probably would be playing the outfield, too, but we can't take a chance on her getting hurt."

Ngyuen was the Vaqueros' big power bat in the lineup, batting .464 (second in the conference) with nine home runs and 52 runs batted in. She also recorded nine doubles and nine triples and had a .896 slugging percentage. And, on top of that, was a unanimous selection, making her an automatic selection to the all-state squad.

"She's a beast, her hitting is incredible," Wilder said. "She's had good games and bad games, but all of a sudden she's starting to put three, four, five games together. She's doing a really great job."

Despite missing 14 games, Pinedo still put up first-team numbers, including a .368 average with 23 runs scored and eight stolen bases.

"Nancy missed 14 games, but she still got first-team outfield in the Western State Conference," Wilder said. "It's really good for her."

Kaser, a catcher, also swung a big bat, hitting .441 with eight homers and 42 RBI and an .811 slugging percentage.

"Jena is so dedicated, she deserves everything she's got," Wilder said. "She's really, really come around. Jena's just improved leaps and bounds."

Zabka batted .361 with 27 RBI and 33 runs scored, while not only playing her position well in right field, but sliding over to center field and even the infield when needed.

"What would we do without her?" Wilder said of Zabka. "She's not only a phenomenal right fielder, she's our utility, she can play anything. She has been our glue, you couldn't ask for a better three hitter, you couldn't ask for a better person to put in."

Nicodemus, an outfielder and team captain, batted .355 and stole at team-high 14 bases.

"You couldn't do it without our captain," Wilder said. "She had a great year and really stepped it up at the end."

Lozano, a second baseman, batted .318 with 21 RBI and was the team's most improved player, according to Wilder.

"If we had to give an award for somebody who's really improved, [Lozano] went from not playing second base a lot to an amazing second baseman," Wilder said. "She's done really well."

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