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Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on May 15th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 10 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 10

Queens of the diamond

Hancock softball caps a solid season with big awards

BY KRISTINA SEWELL

Allan Hancock College softball has been taking up a lot of Sun pages this year, but for good reason: The Bulldogs have clearly had a solid season, finishing 22-16-1 overall and 12-6 in conference. They racked up a .331 team batting average, a .393 on-base percentage, and a .501 slugging percentage.

In addition to those stellar stats, the team recently capped its season with five players named to Western State All Conference. Freshmen Nathalia Powell, Michaela Valencia, Tawny Nunes, and Kristine Ramos made first team All Conference, and sophomore Marissa Perez earned second team All Conference.

“All of them played every single game and put in work every day,” coach Scia Maumausolo said. “This was a cohesive group, and they will be fun to see next year.”

Maumausolo said the team will be keeping a handful of talented players and adding some new recruits in the fall. She’s looking to build on the success of this year’s team.

According to the Bulldog coach, at any one time the team had seven to eight starting freshmen in its lineup. Among them was Ramos, who spent most of the year tearing it up on the bases.

Ramos, a centerfielder, led the state in stolen bases with 49; Maumausolo revealed that Ramos will receive the “Golden Shoe” award from the state for her accomplishments. Ramos also finished the season with 43 hits and 43 runs.

The former Righetti High School student decided at the beginning of the season that she was going to beat the stolen base record of 48.

“It came down to the last game to beat the  record,” she said. “I accomplished more than what I set out to do

Part of her success on the bases comes from Maumausolo, whom Ramos said taught her to believe in herself.

“She could tell I was uncomfortable at first,” Ramos said. “But she told me I was the fastest kid in the state and encouraged me to believe in the power of my ability.”

Ramos’ fellow outfielder and teammate, Tawny Nunes, also had a big season, leading the team with 47 RBI, which earned her the title of second in conference.

“Tawny is very versatile, has good power, and is nails in clutch,” Maumausolo said.

According to Hancock’s Athletics Department, Nunes finished the season with 32 runs, 52 hits, and 28 stolen bases.

Valencia took the lead as one of the Bulldogs’ “big bats,” hitting 12 home runs—just one shy of beating the record-holder at Cuesta College. Valencia said she could usually feel it was a home run by how the ball came off the bat; her favorite pitch to hit is high and inside.

The shortstop said one of the things that helped her this season was learning to not hold tightly to the past.

“Coach Scia taught me that if I made a mistake, it was better for me and everyone else if I let it go,” she said.

Valencia finished the year with a .411 batting average and a .829 slugging percentage, with 56 runs and 53 hits. Due to some persistent injuries, Valencia will be spending the off-season getting her body healthy.

This year’s All Conference honors take on a new significance for sophomore Perez, who will soon move on from Hancock. The third baseman capped her season with seven doubles and 24 RBI. As a freshman, Perez received Honorable Mention All Conference. This year, she improved to second team, accomplishing one of her major goals.

“She turned it on offensively in conference,” Maumausolo said of Perez.

The coach added that Perez’s comical spirit will be missed on the team; not taking things too seriously was instrumental for the sophomore this year.

“In the fall, Coach told me I was too serious and needed to have more fun in games because when I was like that at practice, I did well,” Perez said. “Everything felt more natural; it really did help me this year.”

While Maumausolo said she’s still in talks with a couple of Division III schools interested in Perez, the sophomore will definitely pursue her education.

Stepping into spotlight this year was a freshman pitcher/utility player from Cabrillo High School, Nathalia Powell. With 18 wins and 107 strikeouts, Powell led the conference in pitching.

“Nathalia stepped into a big role and pitched as much as she could,” Maumausolo said. “She consistently showed up to work hard and she showed how hard work pays off.”

Powell, a movement pitcher who prefers the screw ball or the rise ball as her go-to pitch, said her goals this season were to get lead-off outs and to not give easy pitches to batters. Powell said having a solid defense behind her definitely helped her keep control on the mound.

“I’ve never had a team like this before. It was nice because I could pitch my game more under control—comfortable and relaxed—when I had more run support and defense behind me,” she said.

For next season, Powell wants to achieve a lower earned-run average and to have fewer home runs hit off of her. This year, she doubled as a lead batter in the fabled “four-spot,” topping out with a .472 batting average.

“I knew I was put in the four-spot for a reason and my whole team was depending on me,” she said. “But I just trust my hands and in what Coach Scia tells me.”

Maumausolo said all four freshmen will be returning as offensive and defensive contributors next season. While all of the girls conveyed the fun they had playing with this team and how they’ll miss the camaraderie, they’re already looking forward to the coming year.

“I am hungry to take conference and go far in state because we will have more talent coming in, more hitters to add to the roster, and we will be more mature with our nine sophomores,” Powell said.

With a core group returning, the future looks even brighter for Hancock softball: The team will have 12 to 15 incoming freshmen. The Bulldogs will start working out again in June, and Maumausolo is anxious to get back into ball as well.

“We’re ready to jump back in and work hard,” Maumausolo said. “We’ve had a taste of success, and we want more.”

Staff Writer Kristina Sewell thinks success tastes like chicken. Or bacon. Contact her at ksewell@santamariasun.com.