RIO HONDO — The 2017 softball season was one to remember for the Rio Hondo Lady Bobcats as they won their fourth straight district title along with a historic march to the Region IV-4A final.
However, last season was last season and this year Rio Hondo returns a strong nucleus of players mixed with some young guns who are eager to prove themselves in 2018.
“This is the group to handle the pressure and they understand that last year’s home runs don’t win this year’s games,” said Rio Hondo coach Brett Esparza during practice on Wednesday.
“The kids understand if they want something they have to refocus themselves and that has been something the kids have been focusing on these first few days. We try and not worry about what happen last year because we’re looking at what this year’s goals are and expectations.”
Up the middle, the Lady Cats will be anchored by senior center fielder Bianca Cruz, who is poised to have another strong season. They will also welcome back the Alvarado twins, Annie and Abbie, who, like Cruz, played a vital role on last year’s squad.
Annie will look to toe the rubber this season with Abbie taking her place behind the plate. On the corners, Kayla Castaneda returns at first base and Nayeli Garcia looks to play third.
“We’re feeling really good these first couple of days,” Annie said. “Even though we lost girls to graduation last year, we have plenty of girls back that are ready to lead. As a senior, I take the time to show them the way. We like to have fun here and we have taken the younger girls under our wings. A lot of the freshmen see what happened last year and they want that so we show them, and tell them what needs to be done to get there.”
Senior shortstop April Adames, who grew up playing softball with this year’s group and also played with last year’s seniors, is another player ready to step up.
Last season Adames moved to Kansas due to her father’s job, but this season she has returned home and is hoping to fill in right where she left off.
“I was excited when I got the news I was coming home,” she said. “I grew up playing with this team. I was a little nervous about coming back, but I’m fitting right in.”