Casey Goodman didn't hesitate when asked what she’s most proud of regarding her team’s back-to-back Western State North Conference championships.
In Goodman’s mind, it’s the local flavor that makes up the Bakersfield College softball roster. And, in turn, those players being able to bring a title to their hometown.
The Renegades recently wrapped up their second straight conference championship, holding a 15-0 record in league play with one game remaining in the regular season.
“It’s obviously great for the softball program and great for the college. But really, it’s also great showing local kids it’s possible to stay in town, compete for a conference title and possibly win one," Goodman said. "That’s the most important thing to me — proving to kids that are local that they can come to BC and play at a high level and have a chance to win a championship.”
She’s certainly not alone in that philosophy — many of BC's athletic teams feature area athletes throughout their rosters.
In softball’s case, 22 of the 25 players on the team graduated from Bakersfield-based high schools.
Two others hail from Arvin and Delano, while the one outlier outside of Kern County, Arroyo Grande graduate Natilee Parrish, spent part of her high school career at Liberty.
“We have East, Mira Monte, one or two Centennial kids, three from Liberty. We’re getting players that often times people overlook,” Goodman said. “People are like ‘where did this kid come from?’ Well, they’re from Bakersfield.”
Goodman is also a local product.
A North High School graduate in 1999, she did some traveling after her high school days however.
Goodman played collegiately at Louisiana Monroe, where she had a standout career at catcher. She was inducted into the university’s sports Hall of Fame in 2018 and named to the Southland Conference’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team as well.
After playing professionally in Langhirano, Italy, Goodman returned to Louisiana, where she was head coach at Louisiana State University, Alexandria (2007-09) and an assistant coach at Louisiana State University Eunice (2005-07). She then became an assistant/associate head coach at Lamar State College-Port Arthur in Texas from 2011-17.
Goodman said her journey reafirmed the commitment and hard work necessary to succeed in college softball.
“I had no clue the time and hours I had to put in. I knew it was going to be hard work, but I really had to start at the bottom,” she said.
“I’ve been coaching 13 years now. I’ve gradually moved up and now it doesn’t seem like work to me. I love my job, love my career and love the relationships I get to build with my student athletes.”
Two players in particular have sparked the Renegades in 2019.
The headliner the past two years has been star pitcher Kylee Fahy, a Liberty High School graduate. She’s on pace to lead the state in strikeouts for the second straight season (after recording 289 last year, she’s back atop the charts again with 266). She also holds an 18-12 record and a 1.44 ERA this season.
After an ankle injury slowed her early on, Fahy has come on strong down the stretch of conference play, giving up one run in her last 17 innings of work.
It’s the second straight year Fahy has put together a dominant performance and, not surprisingly, wins have followed suit for the program. Goodman pointed to the sophomore’s competitiveness, workhorse approach and overlooked hitting prowess (.364 batting average, one home run, 22 RBIs and 23 runs scored) as contributing factors to the Renegades' ascension.
“If we didn’t have her, I honestly don’t know if we’d have two conference championships,” the head coach said. “A key piece to two titles.”
Another standout has been Parrish, a former teammate of Fahy’s at Liberty who returned to town after graduating from Arroyo Grande. The freshman has brought a big bat to the lineup, cranking out a team-high 11 home runs (ranking fifth in the state) and 34 RBIs. Her .353 batting average comes in second on the team behind Fahy. Parrish has also drawn a team-leading 19 walks while striking out just four times.
“Complete surprise to us,” Goodman said. “That’s the kid you want up when there’s base runners in scoring position.”
While BC is 15-0 in conference play, the team was just 8-16 early in the season. Goodman said she bulked up the pre-conference schedule to prepare the Renegades for the 2019 playoffs, and she hopes it pays dividends now.
“Where we are right now — great defense behind Kylee and timely hitting when we need it — I think we’re in good position,” Goodman said. “I think our kids are ready.”