New faces abound on the Carson High softball team, and it starts with the head coach.
Shane Quilling, an assistant on the football squad, has taken over the head job after Shelby Tuttle stepped down after last year’s 10-20-1 season.
Quilling is being assisted by former head coach Scott Vickrey, former pitching coach Bob Carvin and Keith Allen, who assisted with last year’s program.
“Coach Vickrey talked about coming back as head coach, and I told him that I would help out,” said Quilling, whose young squad opens Sierra League play Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Damonte Ranch. “Then he got the department head job and couldn’t take the head job. I told him I’d take the job only if he and Bob Carvin would help out. Bob does a great job, and is as good as a person as you will find. Scott does a great job. I’ve coached the little girls teams, so I’m learning a lot from them.
“We’re really young (4 freshmen, 2 sophomores, 4 juniors and 2 seniors) and we return just three players from last year’s team. We don’t have experienced pitching, but we’re very athletic. We have good speed. We’ll be a good defensive team once we figure out where we want everybody to be. We have to be a good defensive team because we don’t have overpowering pitching.”
What Quilling & Co. do have is arguably one of the best shortstops around in Bailey Allen, who started last year. Blessed with good speed and a quick bat, Allen is one tough out. She was impressive defensively in a recent scrimmage against Spanish Springs.
“Defensively, she has to be one of the best shortstops in the north,” Quilling said. “She has great hands, a great arm and a good bat. Obviously, she is going to be the leader of this team. She’s played on travel teams all over the country, and the thing I’m excited about is that she’s only a junior.”
Joining Allen in the infield are freshman Nicole Brown at second base, freshman Terryn Earle at first base and third base falls to Makenzie Tucker, Winder and Camiell Simpson, who suffered an ankle injury and may be out three weeks. Until Simpson comes back, Winder will start at third whenever Tucker is in the circle. Penelope Eisenhower will be a back-up.
“Terryn has never played first,” Quilling said. “She’s played second, short and third. Camiell can play second and third.”
Brittany Bailey will start in one outfield spot along with returnee Elise Brady and freshman Lauren Lemburg. Sophomore Chandler Blueberg, younger sister of ex-baseball stars Colby and Chase, is the back-up.
“Elise will play left or right,” Quilling said. “She has some good power.”
Sarah Runge, a standout on the JV squad a year ago, will most likely start behind the plate and be backed up by Winder.
Tucker and Lemburg are the two starters in the circle. Tucker pitched at the JV level last year, but it was her first experience throwing.
“Lauren had two real good innings against Spanish Springs,” Quilling said. “I don’t think she gave up a hit.”
Quilling said there’s help coming in the next couple of years in the circle and in general, and Quilling expects to be around.
“The program has been down for a couple of years, and we want to build it back up,” Quilling said. “It would be great if we could get into that last playoff spot.”
Douglas is the odds-on favorite in the Sierra League, and after that, it figures to be close between the rest of the teams.
Carson could contend if it can find ways to score runs.