Carson High starts the 2018 softball season Thursday in Elk Grove at the annual Sacramento Tournament of Champions with a new coaching staff and limited outside work.
Carlos Mendeguia, former CHS boys basketball coach, took the job last spring after the Senators went 9-24. During basketball season, he lost shortstop Bella Kordonowy to a knee injury, and now heavy snow has forced the team to conduct indoor practices.
Mendeguia hired a veteran staff once he got the job, bringing over the entire Western Nevada College staff of Leah Wentworth, Bethany Henry-Herman, Sam Herceg and Louie Sanchez. Mendeguia said having female coaches is critical in softball.
“It’s huge being on the dirt,” Mendeguia said. “You can do so much more. We’ve been outside just one day. You can do some basic fundamental stuff inside, but you can’t live hit. You can’t work on judging trajectory on fly balls and taking proper angles on balls. I feel like we’re behind everybody else.
“I think it’s really important to have women coaches. Girls relate to other girls better. Two of our JV coaches are women.”
Mendeguia said he has no expectations entering this weekend.
“We’ll go down there and see where we’re at; see what we have to work on,” Mendeguia said. “I have no high expectations. We are a young team. We only have three seniors.
“I think we’ll get better as the season goes. We have to learn to work together. That is important. It’s not easy once we get to league. We start with Reno, Spanish Springs and Reed. They are three of the top teams in the region.”
That being said, the cupboard isn’t bare.
Kailee Luschar, who led the team with a .480 average and 31 stolen bases, returns. She had four homers and 14 RBI. She will be moved to short to replace Kordonowy. Also back is ace Jailene Salciedo, who was 8-13 a year ago, and led the team with 30 RBI. Other starters returning are outfielder-pitcher Lauren Lemburg (.253, 7 RBI), catcher Alex Salciedo (.243, 2 RBI), infielder Nicole Brown (.250, 17 RBI), outfielder Cam Quilling (.270, 2 HR, 18 RBI), and first baseman Kassidy Cooley (.275, HR, 12 RBI).
Other returners are utility player Terryn Earle (.252, HR, 5 RBI) and corner infielder Faith Bigelow (.333, HR, 8 RBI).
Top incoming freshmen are third baseman Amaya Mendeguia, middle infielder Kedre Luschar, infielder Lauren Hawkins and utility player Taylor Murphy.
“We have a lot of versatility on both offense and defense,” Mendeguia said. “Pretty much everybody on the team can play two or more positions. We can play small ball or we can play the power game.”
Kailee Luschar had four homers as did Jailene Salciedo. Quilling also went deep twice.
Cooley, Bigelow and Murphy are battling for playing time at first, Brown and Kedre Luschar are at second, Kailee Luschar is at short along with Kedre Luschar and Hawkins. Amaya Mendeguia and Bigelow are at third. Lemburg will start in the outfield when she isn’t pitching along with Quilling and Jailene Salciedo when she isn’t pitching. Hawkins and Earle could also see time in the outfield. Alex Salciedo will be out of action for a couple of weeks, so Earle, Bigelow, Hawkins and Mendeguia could see action behind the plate.
Coach Mendeguia said Quilling will be the everyday centerfielder once she returns to the team. Mendeguia said she hasn’t returned to school since her father, Shane, passed away less than two weeks ago.
“We told her to take whatever time she needs and come back when she is ready to come back,” Mendeguia said. “The girls will be excited to have her back.”