Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 52
Bulldog NationThis year's softball team is deep in talent and big in spirit
BY KRISTINA SEWELL
Ribbons are in place, cleats are laced up, and the diamond is chalked and ready to go. Softball season has returned to Allan Hancock College. On Saturday, March 2, the Lady Bulldogs returned home after a series of road games for a double header against LA Valley. In front of a home crowd, the team took the first game 4-2 and followed up with an 8-7 victory to complete the sweep.
Already 14 games into this season with league play starting March 7, the softball squad is currently 11-5 overall; three of the five losses have been within just one or two points. While it may be said that a team can’t be defined by its numbers, the Hancock softball team is putting up some big stats that promise for an exciting season.
Head coach Scia Maumausolo is in her fourth season at Hancock after leaving her job as assistant coach at Mount San Antonio College in 2009. Maumausolo said that although they’re not the oldest team, Hancock has talent.
“This is the telling story of the team; we’re young,” Maumausolo said. “But when we’re hot, we have the potential to get even hotter.”
Indeed, the team is young, carrying just four sophomores and 10 freshmen. But what they lack in age they make up for in speed and determination. Maumausolo said this group is more hungry, more dedicated, and more motivated.
“I look forward to coming to practice,” she said. “These girls want to get better.”
The head Bulldog said last year’s team had a mix of three strong players, but the strength of this year’s team comes from a solid one-through-nine line up. Six of the nine starting Bulldogs have a .300-plus batting average. Freshman Tawney Nunes is ranked third in batting average with .500 and is ranked third in runs batted in (RBI). She’s followed by teammate Michaela Valencia with 12 RBIs, and is leading the Western State Conference (WSC) in home runs.
Maumausolo said this year the team has been doing a lot of visual and mental training to help with games and hitting; the key to their bats is to keep it simple.
“I tell them just to keep their head down and mash,” Maumausolo said.
Keeping it simple is keeping the Bulldogs ahead of the pack with a .308 team batting average and a big .491 slugging percentage. With 20 doubles, eight triples, eight home runs, and 76 RBIs, the team has racked up 97 runs on the season so far.
Out on the field, Maumausolo expects the outfield to be the best in conference.
“They’re all freshmen, but they’re extremely fast,” she explained.
Freshmen outfielder Kristine Ramos would be one of those speed demons; she currently leads conference with 10 stolen bases and is ranked second in the state.
Although the Bulldogs only list two on their pitching roster, freshman Nathalia Powell from Cabrillo is expected to be lead hurler this season. Powell leads the WSC with 20-plus strikeouts and a 3.33 earned run average. She’s also a big part of the lineup for the team, carrying a .400 batting average. Maumausolo, who works with the pitchers, said Powell is a combination of speed and movement.
“She has excellent command of her pitches and has a phenomenal change up,” Maumausolo said. “She doesn’t walk too many people; she’s fun to watch.”
The pitchers are backed up by an experienced infield with a sophomore at each of the corners and behind the plate. Alissa Ray, a former Bulldog who went on to play shortstop at Maumausolo’s alma mater, CSU Northridge, has returned as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs and works with the infield.
“They’re solid and work hard,” Ray said, adding the left side of the infield is especially strong.
Keeping errors down, the team has a .909 fielding percentage—adding a consistent defense to their arsenal.
The team, according to Maumausolo, packs a lot of energy and desire to be successful. That hunger is evident with Powell and her teammate, sophomore catcher Deja Camacho. The girls said this year’s team chemistry is the strongest they’ve ever seen—which is crucial for success.
“We have each other’s backs and can count on each other—on the field and off,” Powell said.
Camacho, also a lead hitter and about to sign with a Division 1 program, said this squad has heart and never gives up, whether they’re ahead or behind.
“We’re too good of a team to lose,” Camacho said. “I’ve seen too much talent go to waste.”
Powell and Camacho said their team has a solid lineup; they can count on anyone to do her job.
“If our defense is down, the offense makes up for it,” Powell said.
Camacho added the team’s biggest strengths include their power and fielding abilities.
“Our toughest competition will be ourselves and keeping the energy up during double headers,” Camacho said.
Maumausolo said that to be successful this season, the Lady Bulldogs will need to be consistent, hit timely, and stay healthy.
“Moorpark looks strong; Cuesta, Ventura, and Santa Barbara are always solid,” Maumausolo said. “But we’re preparing for everybody, and I’m liking our chances.”
A few years ago, the Lady Bulldogs weren’t as competitive—but that was before they hired Maumausolo. A three-time Division 1 All-American and Hall of Famer, Maumausolo looked at her new position much like a pregnancy.
“I had taken on something that was brand new and growing,” she said.
Every year, the program has grown in staff while the facilities have seen tremendous improvements thanks to Maumausolo, the team, and the Boosters program. The fencing has been moved back; a scoreboard and bathrooms have been added. But most importantly, the team has seen enormous growth in their athletes.
“We’ve worked hard in recruiting; we have a good eye for talent,” Maumausolo said. “We have great players here on the Central Coast.”
She added that her primary goal when she came to Hancock was to create a culture that everyone would want to be a part of and be proud of.
Powell and Camacho said they came to Hancock because they believed in Maumausolo’s vision and both wanted to be part of rebuilding a program.
“It’s an honor to be on the field with Coach Scia,” Powell said.
“She teaches life lessons, not just softball,” Camacho explained. “She is a great person and coach—plus she is really funny.”
Both players said Maumausolo has taught the team never to give up, and the girls never doubt the coaches’ confidence in their abilities.
Ray, who played for Maumausolo for one year, said the coach has worked hard to turn the program around.
“I came back to coach with her; you can learn so much,” Ray said. “She is phenomenal with words and puts things in a way that’s easy to understand.”
The Lady Bulldogs faced off in a home double header against Moorpark College on March 7. With a team of local talent and a fighting spirit, both coaches are excited to see what this team can accomplish.
“All of these girls put in the time and want to be here,” Ray said. “If anyone can do it, it’s this team.”
As for Maumausolo, she thinks Hancock can win it all this year.
“I want them to experience reaping the benefits of hard work,” the coach said. “Success is addicting.”
Powell added that even though the numbers are good, the team knows they’re going to surprise some people this season; Camacho agreed.
“We’ve made progress; the word’s getting around,” Camacho said. “We’re all proud to play for Hancock.”
Staff Writer Kristina Sewell is proud, too. Contact her at email@example.com.