It may be hard to believe Carson High’s softball team is even younger than the 2016 version, but it is.
Carson, which finished 6-16 a year ago, has no seniors this spring and only 11 players. Several players opted not to return this season.
Returning are pitchers Jailene Salciedo and Lauren Lemburg (.250), second baseman Nicole Brown (.319, 10 RBI), first baseman Kassidy Cooley (.369, 18 RBI), third baseman Faith Bigelow (.295, 14 RBI), catcher Camiell Simpson (.283, 11 RBI) and first baseman-outfielder Terryn Earle (.200).
Four freshmen newcomers are infielder-outfielder Kailee Luschar, catcher-outfielder Alex Salciedo, shortstop Bella Kordonowy and infielder-outfielder Camryn Quilling.
Despite the inexperience, coach Shane Quilling believes his squad has a good chance to make the top eight this year.
“I’ll be disappointed if we don’t finish in the middle of the pack,” Quilling said. “The last month of the season we didn’t have two starters (Brown and Jailene Salciedo), but we still competed. We could have won five or six more games. We didn’t know how to finish games. Without a doubt (inexperience was the reason).
“We lost 7-6 to Manogue, 6-5 to Reno and 10-9 to Douglas. There were four or five games we could have won but we would drop a ball (in the outfield) or do something stupid. We are much more athletic. Coach (Scott) Vickrey has been around for a long time, and he’s been impressed.”
Camyrn Quilling figures to start in left or right, and Jailene Salciedo and Lemburg, when they aren’t pitching, figure to start at the the other corner outfield spot. The speedy Luschar will be in center. Earle also has some outfield experience as does Brown and Alex Salciedo.
Cooley, the Senators’ most powerful hitter, starts at first. Brown is expected to open at second, Kordonowy at short and either Simpson or Bigelow at third. It will be either Simpson or Alex Salciedo behind the dish. Camryn Quilling could also move into the infield if needed.
Coach Quilling is hopeful for better seasons from Jailene Salciedo and Lemburg, the happy-go-lucky left-hander. Cooley is the third pitcher, but barring injury, probably won’t be in the circle much.
“Jailene is throwing pretty hard,” Coach Quilling said. “When she was younger, she could throw the ball by people, but you can’t do that here. She needs to do a better job hitting spots. Lauren was good with off-speed stuff. At the end of the year she was pitching very well.”
One thing Carson needs to improve on is hitting, and that’s where younger players have the most trouble adjusting.
“I think so without a doubt,” Quilling said. “We have some solid pitchers in our league, and good pitchers don’t give you good pitches to hit. Just seeing it live and under pressure is something they aren’t used to. We have to get better hitting the ball.”
The Senators have a new table-setter in Luschar, who’s a left-handed slapper with a boatload of speed. If she gets the ball down, you have to like her chances of beating it out.
Quilling thinks Luschar could be better than Bailey Allen, who graduated last year.
“I think she is the best athlete in school,” Quilling said.
Quilling said he doesn’t really like only keeping 11 players, but decided it was best after talking with Vickrey and Bob Carvin, the pitching coach.
“We really didn’t have anybody on JV who could help us,” Quilling said. “I don’t want somebody to come up and just sit. They need to play (and get at-bats).
“It will make it tough for next year because we won’t have any openings. I don’t mind carrying 13 or 14 players.”