South baserunner Marisa Garcia successfully steals second base as Foothill shortstop Alexia Castro tries to cover during the Central Section Division VI semifinals Tuesday afternoon. Foothill will play for the section championship at Fresno State on Friday at 5 p.m. against Visalia-Central Valley Christian. 

When Brooke Charles and Chris Wedel walked on campus last fall, the two took over the softball and baseball programs on campus at Foothill, respectively, that had been league and section doormats for decades.

Both were hired on as physical education instructors and hit the ground running in the fall as Charles was the varsity volleyball head coach for the Trojans and Wedel was an assistant on the football team.

Then the two and their players watched closely as the Trojans boys basketball team won the CIF State Division V title and the boys soccer team won the Central Section D-V title.

Charles and Wedel both have family members that helped instruct them on how to be better coaches and their past experiences on section championship teams in the past for other programs have lent to the two first-year head coaches to lead their programs to the D-VI championships.

This is the first title game appearance in the history of either program, according to section historian Bob Barnett.

On Friday, Foothill, the No. 5 seed, will play No. 2 Visalia-Central Valley Christian in the D-VI softball championships at Margie Wright Diamond at Fresno State.

At 5 p.m. on Saturday, the seventh-seeded Trojans will play No. 1 Bishop in the baseball D-VI championship at Beiden Field across the Nees Avenue at Fresno State.

“I work with Brooke in the P.E. department closely,” Wedel said. “We talk about this about how we are trying to change the culture. This was a big time program back in the day. We have the athletes. It’s on us to remind them that they need to start believing in themselves again. They have it in them. They just need to keep grinding.”

Wedel was an assistant at Wasco in 2017 under his brother, Jeff, as the Tigers won the D-IV title. That experience watching and learning from his brother helped mold Wedel into a better coach, he said.

“Very much. Working underneath my brother was great. He taught me a lot on how to manage the boys,” Wedel said. “He works for a big company (at Halliburton), so he’s really good at that. Watching him manage situations, it helped me grow as a coach.”

Charles was a junior at Ridgeview when the Wolf Pack won the D-III championship in a 1-0 win in eight innings over Kerman and told the players of her past success as a player and how this team had it in them from the beginning of the season to succeed, even if they didn’t believe themselves.

“We have a routine and are trying to stick to it. I have been there and I told them that I learned from those experiences,” Charles said. “From our first team practice, I told them that we are going all the way. They didn’t believe me. That transferred the energy. They began to believe.”

Charles also leans on her father, Art, who was a standout for Foothill on the 1983 section basketball championship team.

“My dad is really proud,” Charles said. “He has been my one big motivating factor. He is always reminding me to stay present.”

It’s been a resurgent year for Foothill athletics and both coaches believe that the winning culture for a past powerhouse in athletics is contagious again on campus.

“We just keep putting into their heads until they believe. It doesn’t matter what people have told them in the past, it’s been on us to continue to make them believe in their abilities.”

After beating No. 13 Kennedy on the road in the opening round, the softball team beat No. 4 Fresno Christian and top-seeded South on the road to advance as freshman Jasmine Westberry pitched a shutout with four strikeouts over South.

The same goes for the baseball team. After a 14-0 home win in the opening round over Trona, Foothill also beat No. 2 Fresno Christian in the quarterfinals on the road and upset No. 3 Strathmore on Wednesday in the semifinals, 4-3, to advance.

Wedel said he tried to limit the pitch count for ace Cesar Delgado by pulling him early to save his arm for the finals, but had to re-enter Delgado, who threw 98 pitches over Strathmore.

“He’s been my guy all year,” Wedel said. “Every time he’s been the mound, we’ve got a chance to win. He’s our cleanup hitter. He’s the guy we look to.”

Delgado will stay in the batting lineup as Sal Peru will make the start Saturday.

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