Crissy Buck is now molding Cal State Bakersfield's softball team into her type of squad.
Buck, who inherited most of last season's team from previous coach Kathy Welter and then compiled a 13-39 record in her first season, has several position players returning but a lot of new pitchers.
"I look at this as a process," said Buck. "Now there is more of an imprint with who we brought in as our recruits. There was a big overhaul this off-season with people transferring or not playing anymore or players coming in to fill the holes."
The 17-player roster features nine returnees and eight newcomers.
Seven of the returnees were full- or part-time starters last season.
Junior left fielder Karissa Veiga led the team with a .378 average and tied for the team lead with six doubles and 26 runs scored.
Senior Laura King is back in center field. She was second in batting (.358) and led the team with 64 hits and eight stolen bases while tying for the team lead with 26 runs.
Right field is shaping up as a battle between senior Karlee Rodgers (.243 last season) and freshman Amber Mills, a Clovis West High School graduate who is also one of the team's pitchers.
Junior Amy Ricciardi, the starting third baseman last season, has taken over at first base. She hit .285 last season and led the team with seven home runs and tied Shay Fryer for the team lead with 29 RBIs.
Fryer, a junior, has been the starting shortstop since her freshman season. She hit .300 last season.
Sophomore second baseman Adrianna Cardoza was the Freshman of the Year last season for the Pacific Coast Softball Conference. She batted .223 overall but was over .300 in conference games.
Also back is sophomore catcher Ashley Carter, who started 35 of her 44 games.
"I'm so impressed by our returners," Buck said. "We started to establish our culture, our program and our philosophy. They have come back this season and have run with it. I makes my job a lot easier when you have those upper classmen who have been there."
Pitching is the one area with a lot of new faces.
Marissa Hiller, who started a team-high 26 games last season when she went 5-11 with a 7.27 ERA, and Sarah Hoag, who ranked second on the team with 17 starts (5-18, 5.44) have both left the program, Buck said. Three new pitchers have joined the team.
Starting the season as the No. 1 pitcher is sophomore Kelsey Monroe, a transfer from San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton who went 26-4 with 251 strikeouts (No. 3 among California JC pitchers) in 206 innings with only 29 walks.
"I feel very confident with her stepping in," Buck said. "My confidence is half the game. The other half is the players' confidence. They have a lot of respect and admiration for Kelsey in the circle in the few games we did get to play in the fall."
Freshman Sydney Raeber from Hanford High School and Mills are two other freshmen expected to see plenty of pitching action. Also in the mix is the only returning pitcher from last season, Taylor DeSilva, who went 3-9 with a 4.94 ERA in 32 games (eight starts). DeSilva could also see time at third base, Buck said.
Raeber could also see some action in left field.
Another newcomer to watch is sophomore third baseman Madison Bundy, a transfer from Oregon State. Buck, who was an assistant at Oregon State prior to getting the job at CSUB, recruited Bundy there. Bundy was mostly a pinch-runner at OSU last season, Buck said.
"Madison has been a great addition," Buck said. "With most programs, most girls can't deal with transfers coming in. But they know where she comes from. They value her opinion and value her perception and they just want to win."
Also new to the program are Jazmine Irvin and Kara Frankhouser, who transferred from Bakersfield College where they had big seasons last year.
Buck said Frankhouser is challenging Carter for the catching job and could also see time at designated player.
Irvin is also a DP candidate, Buck said, along with freshman Jessica Castaneda from Ridgeview High.
"Whoever hits the ball will be in that spot," Buck said.
This is the final year of the PCSC, which lost several teams in the off-season when the Big Sky Conference added softball. CSUB went 6-14 in PCSC play last season.
The remaining PCSC teams will join UOP next season as members of the West Coast Conference, which is adding softball.
As of now, CSUB will remain in the WCC because the university's new conference home for most teams, the Western Athletic Conference, does not offer softball.