Last season the Wilcox softball squad missed out on qualifying for the CCS playoffs by the slimmest of margins. After a big win against rival Santa Clara — also by the slimmest of margins at 3-2 — in their second to last game of the season, then Head Coach Laura Stott-Hardesty sounded confident that her squad would qualify for the postseason based on points. As it turned out, Wilcox did not qualify.
With Stott-Hardesty stepping down to focus on her Athletic Director duties this school year, last year’s Assistant Coach Vanessa Chagoya has taken her place as manager. The first-year head coach didn’t hesitate with her succinct answer when reminded how last season abruptly ended.
“We’re hungry,” chimed coach Chagoya. “The girls have a great mindset, very positive this year.”
Thus far on the season the Chargers are 0-2, but the squad already feels like they are on their way to where they need to be in terms of putting some wins in the bank.
“Even between both games we have already improved a lot,” noted sophomore first baseman Amanda McDowell. “We have improved our communication, working well together as a team and doing a good job out in the field, we have been playing good defense and getting out of innings quickly.”
“Compared to last year we have improved a lot in our defense,” added junior shortstop Deena Pederson. “The first two games we have been pretty strong on defense, but we gotta get better at the plate, gotta work on being a bit more aggressive there. But we are definitely progressing forward already.”
Pederson led the Chargers and the De Anza League in almost every offensive category last season — between home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, on-base percentage, you name it. With track sprinter’s speed, Pederson often hit leadoff last season. This year, she has been hitting out of the third spot. Coach Chagoya said she has no hesitation putting her star in the three hole.
“She’s a power hitter. I do contemplate on who I put in front of her that won’t slow her down as much,” remarked coach Chagoya. “But if we can get people on in front of her who are base hit hitters, then she can drive them in. If she’s leadoff, we might not have the bats behind her to knock her in. It doesn’t do us any good to leave her on the bases.”
Pederson and the rest of the Chargers will look to get their team into the win column for the first time this season when they host Evergreen Valley on Thursday at 4 p.m.