The Poly Jackrabbits are trying to break into the top half of the Moore League softball standings for the first time in a decade. Third-year head coach Elizabeth Sanches is hoping a positive attitude and strong bond throughout her lineup can help her team make history.
“So much of this game is mental,” Sanches said. “I am trying to train their minds to understand the advantage they have in the league they are in. Lakewood, Millikan, and Wilson are multiple divisions higher than us. If I can convince my girls that we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, and to lay it all on the field, we can accomplish our goals.”
Seniors Mari Shinozaki (pictured) and Valerie Zepeda are the team captains and key returning starters. Zepeda is a silent leader, and Shinozaki is an intellectual leader who understands her coach’s message.
“We value sportsmanship the most,” Shinozaki said. “Being kind of the middle of Moore League we obviously don’t want to come off as too cocky, or with a lack of confidence, so we really want to make sure that the other teams know that we’re here to play, have fun and be as fair as possible.”
Sophomore Isabella Alonso is the most important returning pitcher on the roster. Shortstop Vanessa Correa and Kristianah Villegas are keys near the top of the Jackrabbits lineup.
“I’m really excited to see Vanessa Carrea this season,” Shinozaki said. “She was a stud last year, and with another year of experience on varsity, she’s just going to come out and kill it this year.”
Sanches said she also has a strong freshman class led by pitcher Nozomi Akin, Daisy Martin and Sakarah Buckner.
The Jackrabbits are in CIF-SS Division 4. Last season, they won their first postseason game in five years.
“We’re feeling really good with a young team,” Shinozaki said. “We want to make sure they get their experience this year to hopefully come back next year even stronger.”