The Owls’ softball team (2-2) is no exception.
Last year, the squad sported a roster with five freshmen for every sophomore. Although they lost in the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association playoffs, the potential of several returners who were among some of the state’s top players left the Owls with high hopes for the 2013 season.
But some of that potential never materialized.
In 2012, outfielder Taylor Ward started 40 out of the Owls’ 42 games, but this year she chose to pursue her dance career. Her decision left the squad minus one of its top players on offense, defense and the basepaths. Head coach Jackie Boxley had described Ward as the fastest player on the team.
But the biggest loss to the squad came when starting pitcher Devin Dean was declared academically ineligible. Dean received an honorable mention on the 2012 Western State Conference team, and in her freshman year posted the second-highest strikeout total in the history of Citrus softball.
As a result, the 2013 Owls team won’t look to win games on defense alone as they were able to do last year. This year, they’re doing it with the bats.
What the team has lost on defense, they have made up for with power. Sophomore center fielder Angela Aguinaga set the program record for home runs in a season last year with seven, and was the first Owl ever selected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American team.
However, Aguinaga’s home run record will have only one year of shelf life if Kawehi Ephan has anything to say about it.
The freshman catcher hails from Waimea High School in Hawaii, located on Oahu, the state’s most populous island. Epham’s already making waves on the mainland, as her .750 batting average is the second highest in the state. She doesn’t just hit for contact though, as her five home runs in her first four games makes her the top power hitter in California.
Rounding out the Owls offense are returning sophomore infielders Bre Lockett and Shyann Ramirez.
Lockett is the only Owl not named Epham to have hit a home run this season, while Ramirez is batting .462 on the season, a mark good enough for third on the team (minimum 10 at-bats).
But after a 2-0 start, the Citrus defense has struggled. The pitching duo of Arianna Sanchez and Victoria Baltazar gave up a combined 17 runs in their past two games to San Diego Mesa and Palomar Colleges, both losses.
The Owls should be able to restore their winning record on the road against a struggling Victor Valley team (2-7) Feb. 22.