People thought Casey Goodman would never leave Bakersfield. The 1999 North High graduate was a “real homebody” before she took a scholarship to play softball at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Once she left, eventually playing in Italy and coaching in Texas among other stops, people questioned why Goodman would ever want to go back.
“You always hear people knock on Bakersfield,” Goodman said. “‘Oh, why would you want to go back there? The air quality is bad. This is bad. This is bad.’
“But there’s good people and I think that’s why I came back. I want to make an impact on the softball community in Bakersfield. … I was just kind of tired of giving everything to other communities and I wanted to come back and give something back to my community.”
Goodman was hired as Bakersfield College’s softball coach in June and her first season at the helm will start Friday against Santiago Canyon and San Diego Mesa at the Glendale Sports Complex. She brings a “player’s coach,” hard-working attitude into the BC softball program.
Early in her coaching career, Goodman was forceful and yelled a lot more than she needed to, Goodman said. Now, she considers herself to be more level-headed and laid back. Her players know that she has their backs, she said, and that Goodman will work as hard as she expects her players to.
“Kids these days, you can get stuff accomplished with just having a conversation with them instead of getting in their face and belittling them and making them feel small,” Goodman said. “... If they can give me 100 percent of effort when they're out there I know that will translate to the game that we play. I’m pretty easy to play for if you just give effort and you work hard.”
Goodman’s first order of business was figuring out her roster. What she’s put together is an offensive lineup that won’t play small ball, she said. Goodman told each player early on that if they can hit, she’ll find a place in the lineup for them.
The team returns outfielder/pitcher Alexis Solis from Highland, who led BC with a .424 average, nine home runs and 63 runs batted in last season. Last year’s BVarsity Softball Player of the Year, Hayleigh Hutton from Stockdale, is on the Renegades squad this season.
“Individually, there’s just so much talent and the way everybody is starting to connect now, it’s great to see that,” said first baseman Priscilla Leos. The Foothill graduate played for BC in 2014 and returned for this season.
At the junior college level, teams just need two pitchers to throw the bulk of their innings, Goodman said. She called her staff great with Mckenna Valencia (Stockdale) in her sophomore season and freshman Kylee Fahy coming in.
Fahy was supposed to go to Loyola Marymount after graduating from Liberty, but things fell through, Goodman said. Getting her was a "Hail Mary."
“We’ve got two kids that will dominate, I think,” Goodman said. “... (Fahy is) a power pitcher. She throws hard. I think anybody in the softball community in Bakersfield will know who she is. And then we’ve got Mckenna Valencia, who throws hard as well and I think the two complement each other. We’re relying heavily on them on the mound.”
The road for BC won’t be easy.
It faces Cypress College two weeks into the season and San Mateo several games later. Cypress went 48-0 last season en route to a state championship. San Mateo was one of the final four teams remaining and has won the Northern California region five years in a row.
But Goodman thinks the team is up for the challenge.
“I’m excited to see how this team stacks up,” Goodman said. “... Those preseason games will set us up well for conference and that’s what’s more important.”