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Softball Wilson

Wilson Bruins Softball Season Preview

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The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

The Wilson softball program has relied a lot on pitcher Emily Castano over the past three years. The senior has been the Bruins ace and pitched all of the big Moore League games against Millikan, Lakewood and Long Beach Poly.

This season is no different.

Castano will once again take the ball when Wilson needs her most as she tries to recapture the magic of her sophomore season after an arm injury hampered her as a junior.

“I’m stronger than I was before from all the (physical therapy) and work I’ve put in,” said Castano. “Knowing that I’m physically strong has helped me maintain a strong mentality.”

When Castano is at her best she gets a lot of fly ball outs thanks to off speed pitches that keep batters off balance. When she struggled last season it came in the second or third trip through the lineup.

“I’ve definitely developed some new pitches to use against these teams that kind of figured me out last year,” said Castano. “So I’m very excited to put those to use.”

“She’s a four-year varsity player so she’s been around and she knows what it takes,” Wilson coach George Molina said of Castano. “More communication and her being healthier this year will be important.”

That improved communication also goes from Castano to the rest of her team that has a few new faces in important spots.

“I never really saw myself as a leader, especially following the leaders we had in the past, they were really strong and vocal,” said Castano. “I think I’ve learned from them and adapted that into my leadership skills. I’m hoping that will help out the team.”

Center fielder and leadoff hitter Charlotte White is also stepping into a leadership role after hitting .400 with 25 runs scored and 13 RBI as a first team All-Moore League freshman last season.

White will be joined in the outfield by fellow sophomore returner Tatum Yates, who hit .338 as a freshman with 21 runs scored and 13 RBI. She will hit in the middle of the lineup and can play multiple positions like third-year varsity player Hannah Stump. The junior hit .438 last season with 22 RBI and 19 runs scored.

Senior captain Kaijah Alexander is back in the lineup to pitch and play third or first base. She hit .303 with 19 RBI last season. Junior Leila Uribe will also pitch and play first.

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Junior Tallulah Watts has been the everyday shortstop for the last two seasons, but is moving behind the plate for the big games to play catcher. She will use her great arm and travel ball experience to captain the pitching staff. Junior Shay Murray will also play catcher for a staff that relies on movement.

“We’re going to have to really hit our spots,” said Molina of his pitchers. “We’re not going to be a team that strikes batters out a lot. We’re going to have to play good defense and let people put the ball in play. If our defense plays well we’ll have a shot.”

Freshman Sacha Zalamea will take over at shortstop because Molina loves her footwork and mechanics on ground balls that she gets rid of quickly. She will also play some second base.

Junior Alexsa Barrera will also get time at first base, and senior Ashley Knisley will be in the outfield.

Molina said that he talks to this team a lot about the 2018 Moore League champion squad that also wasn’t picked to win the league.

“The strategy is simple, we have to pitch well and hit our spots, play defense, run the bases smart, lay down a bunt if we have to and get timely hits,” said Molina. “Something we work on a lot is a runner on third with less than two outs. We’ve got to get runs in. We’re going to need runs to win. No game ends 0-0.”

“(Last year) definitely wasn’t what we expected,” said Castano of the 5-6 fourth place Moore League finish. “Especially after the year before. But our camaraderie as a team has really grown and I feel like that can only help us this year. “

Wilson has already started the season 4-1 and is in CIF Southern Section Division 4 this year. 

Wilson Starting Lineup

P- Emily Castano, Sr.

C- Tallulah Watts, Jr.

1B- Leila Uribe, Jr.

2B- Hannah Stump, Jr.

3B- Kaijah Alexander, Sr.

SS- Sacha Zalamea, Fr.

OF- Tatum Yates, So.

OF- Charlotte White, So.

OF- Ashley Knisley, Sr.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.