East County Sports

Griffins’ fortunes ride with two returnees, newcomers

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Grossmont College sophomore Mariah Fortune, of Santana High.

2016 GROSSMONT COLLEGE SOFTBALL – Preview

By Chris Davis
© East County Sports.com
EL CAJON (1-27-16) — The 2015 Grossmont College softball team failed to reach the Southern California Regionals by one game.  The 2016 team is back, retooled for a run to make the Regionals this year.

SCHEDULE (all records are for 2015):

The opening home stand of the season will feature three historically good schools in Golden West (7-31, 3-18 Orange Empire, Friday, Jan. 29) with a double header against Fullerton (23-18, 11-10 OEC) on Saturday (Jan. 30) and Santiago Canyon (30-15, 13-8 OEC) on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

“I was fortunate to get a lot of home games this year,” fifth year head coach DOUG HARTUNG said.  “It just worked out that Golden West and Fullerton offered to come to me this year and that it was back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.  Golden West is always a competitive program and Fullerton beat us twice last year, so we are looking to turn that around.”

The second week of the season begins with a three-way match-up between El Camino (35-12, 17-4 South Coast Conference Champions), College of the Desert (17-19, 12-3 Foothill Conference (the Roadrunners will join the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, along with San Bernardino Valley next year) and Grossmont at El Camino.  The very next day, the Griffins will host LA Harbor.

“It is our turn to travel, so we’ll play El Camino first.  Last year, El Camino did very well last year,” Hartung explained.  “We handled COD last year, but they have a new coach this year, so we don’t know what they will bring to the table.  We went to Harbor last year and shut them out.  I won’t discount them in any way.”

Grossmont will then go to Saddleback (27-14, 15-6 OEC) in Mission Viejo. Last year, the Griffins lost a very close game 6-5 in eight innings to the Gauchos.  “We played Saddleback in the Fall and was encouraged with how we played.  They were two very close games.  We’re looking to give Saddleback a really good game and pull out a victory,” Hartung said.

The Griffins will then travel to Menifee for the Menifee Tournament. There will be 14 teams participating in the two day event.  Chaffey (9-27, 6-9 Foothill), COD, Allan Hancock (35-4-1, 15-0 Western States-Gold Conference) and Barstow (3-26, 3-12 Foothill) will be in the Griffins pool.  “We have managed to play Allan Hancock every year since I’ve been here and had won up to last year.  We tied them last year and they were one of the top teams,” the head man said.

Pacific Coast Athletic Conference play then begins with a home game against Southwestern (25-15, 12-6 PCAC) and a road contest at perennial PCAC champion Palomar (41-4-1, 17-1 PCAC).

“It is nice that we get to open at home. Southwestern beat us twice last year and that was what kept us out of the playoffs last year.  We are going to be up and try to get that first game so that we aren’t behind the eight-ball right out of the gate.  I think Southwestern is going to be like us and have a lot of new faces this year.  I am expecting our team to do as well as they possibly can.  There have been times since I’ve been here that we have been competitive against them.  We shut them out here at our field (March 6, 2013), we have had a couple of close games with them.  Generally speaking, Palomar has always been loaded with hitters”

The road will not get any easier as the Mounties of Mt. San Antonio (29-13, 16-5 South Coast Conference) and Santa Ana (27-15, 16-5 OEC) will come in for a pair of games.  Mt. SAC is a traditional power in the SCC and in Southern California.  With both of Mt. SAC’s baseball and softball teams always in the playoffs, they have a beautiful facility that saw the Griffins longest run in recent memory end.  “We have traditionally travelled to Walnut to take on Mt. SAC, but she offered to come down here this year to give us a shot.  Which is nice.  Santa Ana is always a competitive group.  We lost to them last year, we hope to turn that around this year,” Hartung acknowledged.

Imperial Valley (9-18, 4-14), Mt. San Jacinto (10-22, 4-14) and San Diego Mesa (17-17, 12-6) make up the next three games for the Griffins.  That trio made up two of the bottom three spots in the PCAC in 2015.  “I expect to do well against those three teams.  I can’t make a prediction that we are going to sweep them, but we will do our best.  I think we have a shot at doing well in the PCAC this year,” Hartung predicted.

The first weekend in March will see Victor Valley (0-21, 0-15 Foothill) and Saddleback come to El Cajon, in the case of Saddleback it will be the back half of a home and home.  “Once again, Victor Valley failed to show last year.  Coach Shubert is going to try it again this year.  (Coach) Nick talked before the season started and he said “Look, why don’t we play two.  But we don’t have to do it at the same time,” Hartung quoted.

Grossmont will finish out the first round of PCAC play with a game against San Diego City (9-28, 3-15 PCAC).  City finished at the bottom of the conference last season.  “We are looking at winning as many conference games as possible to give us a shot at Regionals,” Hartung quipped.

The second Saturday in March will see perennial power Cypress (38-10, 18-3 OEC champions) come to El Cajon for a double header.  “We have been traveling to Cypress quite a bit historically.  They offered to come here and reciprocate and give us a double header at home.  We had a couple of good games against them last year,” Hartung noted.

The middle of March will see Palomar come to El Cajon on Wednesday, March 16.  That will be followed with a road date in the Sonoran Desert to take on Imperial Valley.  “You can never count (IVC) out of a game,” Hartung insisted.

Chaffey will be the final games before Spring Break, as the Panthers come to Grossmont for a double header, which will be the second and third time they will face each other.  “Chaffey has a new coach and were looking for games.  We traveled up there last year, so they were planning on coming down here and we decided to make it two,” Hartung explained.

Spring Break will have a light schedule as the Griffins only play host to Mt. San Jacinto on Wednesday of that week.

After the “halfway mark” of the season (which occurs closer to the three-quarter pole) GC will travel to Chula Vista to take on Southwestern to close out the month of March.

April Fool’s Day will see future PCAC member San Bernardino Valley (26-15, 12-3 Foothill co-champions) host the Griffins for a single game.  “They came here last year, beat us 2-1.  It was very frustrating and caught us on a day where we didn’t really hit the ball well,” Hartung said.

Looking ahead to 2017 when the San Bernardino Valley and COD, as was previously mentioned, will be joining the PCAC “We get to see both of those two teams prior to them joining,” Hartung explained.

“I challenged this team with a tough schedule.  I want them to know and play the best and get a wide variety of opponents.  I know that we are young, but I think we can be competitive” Hartung proclaimed.

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Grossmont College sophomore Arisa Rosado

ROSTER

The overall makeup of the 2016 roster is 14 players, 11 of which are freshmen.  The team only has two returning players from last year in ARISA ROSADO (Olympian) and MARIAH FORTUNE (Santana).

 

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Ashley Madera, from Valhalla High.

— Pitchers

ASHLEY MADARA (Valhalla), RACHEL EVERETT (Bonita Vista) and KIANA INDIAN (San Dieguito Academy) will be sharing the innings in the pitching circle.

 

Madera was 9-7 with a 2.68 ERA for the Norsemen in 2014.  In her three years in the Orange and white she was 14-14 with a 2.58 ERA over the course of 45 appearances.  “Ashley was at Western New Mexico, but she wasn’t on the team so she is still a freshman,” Hartung explained.  “I was extremely impressed with Ashley who struck out the first three batters she faced against San Diego Christian College (NAIA) in a friendly game.”

 

Indian coming out of the ‘pen along with Everett.

 

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MacKenzie Reynolds, of Santana High.

— Infielders

AMANDA IZZO (Hemet), ALEXIS FLORES (Calexico), SOPHIA SAHAGUN (Heritage Christian), Rosado, Indian, DIAMOND MEJIA (West Racnh), SIERRA SALAZAR (Helix) and MACKENZIE REYNOLDS (Santana) will make up the Infield for the Griffins this season.

 

Reynolds (.285/1 HR/20 RBI in 76 games at Santana) will be at first with Indian (.222/0 HR/21 RBI in 75 games) backing her up there.  Up the middle, the Griffins will be working with players that have never played at the collegiate level before.  The veteran Rosado (.263/0 HR/3 RBI) will return to her spot at second base. Sahagun and Salazar (.389/1 HR/4 RBI as a Junior in 2014) will be at shortstop.  Izzo will handle the hot corner who also hit over .450 in the Fall for the Griffins.  Mejia hit .300 in limited action at Division II West Virginia State University a year ago and looks to be in the driver’s seat as far as the starting nod on opening day.  Izzo (.364/1 HR/24 RBI in 56 varsity high school games) and Flores (.227/0 HR/30 RBI in 51 games in high school) will spell her when the bounce back needs it.

 

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Schmidt

— Outfielders

This is the deepest portion of the roster for Hartung as he has nine players that are listed as being able to play in the grassy portion of the field.  Those include Izzo, Flores, JESSICA RUBIO (Patrick Henry), Everett, Sahagun, KATIE SCHMIDT (Valhalla), Fortune, Salazar and KRISTEN ARMSTRONG (Granite Hills).

 

Fortune (33 out of 35 games in 2015) will return to man her spot in right field.  Schmidt (.289/1 HR/38 RBI over 87 career high school games), Rubio, Salazar, Flores and Armstrong all swing the bat well and will be fighting to play in the other two positions and maybe the designated player position.

REVIEW

Coach Hartung would like to see the team “be considerably” over .500 this season and get back into the CCCAA Regionals.

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