Though no winner was declared, Casey Goodman saw enough last Tuesday to feel like she had a clear idea of what to expect from her team this season.
Goodman, now in her fourth year as the softball coach at Bakersfield College, is no stranger to winning big in her time with the Renegades. She led BC to a program record 33 wins in 2018, then followed that up with a perfect 16-0 run through the WSC South in 2019.
Certain lofty win totals won't be achievable in 2021. The Renegades, whose scheduled regular season opener at Taft on Saturday was canceled, will only play 26 games this spring. The first is now set to take place Tuesday, when they host Reedley in a double-header.
But after watching a home scrimmage against Taft on April 6, Goodman felt she'd seen enough to know her squad had the potential to do special things again this year.
“I told the kids … after our scrimmage that if we don’t win 20, we aren’t reaching our goals," said Goodman, whose team was 9-11 when the 2020 season was canceled by COVID-19. "There’s no reason that we shouldn’t. We’ve got consistent pitching, great offense and great defense. With the way we looked (in the scrimmage), there’s no reason we shouldn’t win 20 games.”
Goodman's biggest reason for optimism seems to be in her offense, which she says will be difficult to deal with at the plate and on the base pads.
BC freshman and Garces grad Shelby Buchanan already made her presence felt in the scrimmage, where she was unofficially credited with three doubles and six RBIs. Sophomore Aviana Campos, a Highland grad, is also expected to be a clutch power hitter.
They may not need much power to drive in Kylie Havens, a freshman from Frontier who Goodman says can "get to first base in like, five steps."
“The last three years we’ve been good offensively, but I think this is probably the most sound team I’ve had on the offensive side," Goodman said. "(We have) great speed, good power to the gaps, good home run power. We’ve got all the ingredients to be really successful at the plate and put a lot of runs on the board.”
With her speed and arm strength, Havens is also expected to anchor the defense in centerfield. Goodman also praised the talents of Alexis Russell (BCHS) at shortstop and Jayden Beam (Stockdale) at third base, but added she could highlight "everybody on defense, that's how sound we are."
The group will back up Ridgeview grad Trinity Ybarra and Foothill grad Arianna Gutierrez, who will split time in the pitching circle.
For a team that hasn't played since last March 12, the enthusiasm to get back to game action was always going to be high for BC, a fact that may be even more true now that the return is being postponed an additional three days.
With the extended delay and her lofty expectations, Goodman expects a highly energized effort Tuesday.
"They just want to get out there and play now," she said. "It doesn’t even matter who’s in the other dugout. Just the fact that they get to play against another team is what they look forward to.”
The first game of Tuesday's double-header against Reedley in Bakersfield will begin at 1 p.m.