With nary a league title or a playoff win among two local softball teams a season ago, the 2011 campaign is one in which improvement is sought across the board.
Last season, Flintridge Prep worked its way into the postseason only to fall in the wild-card round. Meanwhile, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy will all looking to scrap its way into a postseason slot, as well.
Prep boasts a healthy returning class, with Coach Julie Jaime having nine players with starting experience back on the diamond looking to contend for a Prep League title.
"We hope to contend for league," said Jaime, whose team went 10-11 and took third in league last season. "We hope to get back to the playoffs and win a playoff game or two."
Much of that will depend on the left arm of Denise van der Goot, as the senior hurler is a reigning All-Area selection who will get the bulk of the innings for the Rebels and also hit clean-up.
"We're gonna do well, we're not gonna give up many runs," Jaime said.
Abby Deckop, who will bat third, and Kelly Wang, who will lead off and play shortstop, are also among the returners.
"We do have a good core coming back," said Jaime, who's also excited about the potential of freshman Chelsea Johnson, who will likely take up a corner infield spot. "I have a lot of depth."
Scheduling for Sacred Heart has become a problem, as reigning All-Area pick Lauren Torres, as well as senior utility player Alyssa Conti just recently hit the softball field after crucial roles in the school's soccer team's quest for a CIF Southern Section Division I title and a deep run in the CIF Southern California Regional Championships.
While the soccer team won the Mission League title, with perennial standouts Alemany and Chaminade favorites for the top two spots,
Nishiyama is hopeful that the Tologs can squeeze their way back into the playoffs in the third spot.
"We're just gonna try and compete," said Nishiyama, who will look to senior third baseman Alanna Pires and Torres to reside in the
heart of the order. "Our goal is to try and sneak into third."
Sophomore outfielders Sumner Hanula and Kelly Jacobs should alsobe hefty contributors, while senior pitcher Mackenzie Lyng will be crucial to the Tologs' success.
"Mackenzie's gotta keep us close and we gotta play defense behind her," Nishiyama said.