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Strong DHS softball team may challenge for title

DHS slugger Becky Nakano reacts to a big play during a game last season. Nakano, now a senior, will be a key pitcher and hitter for the Blue Devils in 2011. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

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February 24, 2011 | Leave Comment

After a tumultuous 2010 season that literally came down to the flip of a coin, the Davis High softball team is itching for its chance to show off the deepest roster in the Delta Valley Conference.

The Blue Devils lost out to Franklin on the second playoff seed last year, when they guessed wrong on a coin toss, but with only a role player graduating, the strong roster has stayed virtually intact.  DHS also will be aided by the promotion of some players from last season’s junior varsity, who helped their squad win a league title.

The Devil pitching staff will be carried by the 1-2 punch of seniors Kaitlyn Grim and Becky Nakano as well as hard-throwing junior Alex Barbaria. But as coach George Meagher is well aware, the road to a Sac-Joaquin Section title will go through Elk Grove and its ace Shelby Wisdom, who will take a full-ride scholarship to UCLA next year.

“We’re a better-balanced team, but she’s a dominant pitcher,” Meagher noted. “We played them tough last year, and we know that we’re going to have to beat them (in both regular-season games) or at least split.”

To get past Wisdom, DHS will rely on a mix of small ball and big boppers. The power hitters include the battery of Nakano and catcher Emily Glass, as well as center fielder Megan Winton, who blasted both of the Blue Devils’ home runs last year.

Joining the established sluggers is Haley Cameron, who made the short jog between the DHS baseball and softball fields last summer. After finishing the 2010 season as the top pitcher on the Davis JV baseball team, Cameron has rejoined the girls’ side, and is scheduled to share time with Grim at first base.

Britney Bloomfield and Kalley Thompson will split the duties at second base, though assistant coach David Reuben suggested that the Devils will try extra-hard to find a spot somewhere in the lineup for Thompson’s speedy wheels and quick bat. Melanie Habib, who has started at shortstop since her freshman year, will continue to anchor the middle of the order, while junior Rita Allen-Sutter is expected to start again at third base.

“We’re really strong up the middle. Our defense is good, our hitting is as good as anyone,” Meagher said. “We have more depth and more backup … (and) we’re going to be able to use our small ball more.”

Any ball that gets past this stellar infield will be handled by a capable DHS outfield.  The grass portion of the diamond will see a mixture of juniors Winton, Jordan Kelly, Chelsea Brent and sophomore Sydney Rosenblum, a call-up from what seems to be a very promising JV team.

“In league, (JV will) probably go 10-0, and (get) around 20 wins over 26 games,” Meagher estimated. “If they started as a varsity team, they’d be a competitive team.”

Back at the Mothership, the Devils will put a greater emphasis on fleet baserunning, after going 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts last year. One of the major contributors on the basepaths will be sophomore Stephanie Cello, who won the women’s division of the Davis Stampede 10K run this year. Cello saw time at catcher and third base on JV, but likely will be used as a pinch-runner or utility infielder this spring, due to speed and hustle that Reuben likened to Pete Rose’s.

With the return of Grim and Nakano, who sported ERA’s of 1.17 and 1.24, respectively, last year, DHS looks to be set on pitching. With the return of star hitters such as Glass, who batted .464 in 2010, it seems that the offensive firepower will be there as well.

All eyes will be focused on the last game of the regular season, when the Blue Devils will match up against Elk Grove, possibly for the DVC title.

— Reach Benjy Egel at begel@davisenterprise.net

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