By Ray Conner
The Lady Broncs varsity softball team looks to keep the program going strong.
A coaching change puts Brianna Moss as the head coach. She took over for Ben Goffinet who stepped down after a long tenure. Moss has been in the program for six years. She served five years as an assistant.
Coming off a season that saw Kern Valley go 17-9 and 5-5 in the High Desert League, which was good enough for third place, despite some key injuries. The team also played in two CIF playoff games that were split.
Moss will have most of the former coaching staff back as Mike Moss and Jon Yasin return as assistants. New to the coaching ranks this year will be former Kern Valley softball standout Jessica Yasin. She recently graduated from Long Beach State.
The Lady Broncs will have 12 players on this year’s squad with half of those coming back. The Lady Broncs have two seniors, four juniors, three sophomores, and three freshmen.
The seniors are Sam Alvarez and Riley Blunkall. The four juniors are Kassy Opferman, Helen Hayes, Sadi Hartman, and Krista Witten. The sophomores include, Lexi Baker, Maddie Hurley, and Aryan Meyers. Filling out the squad are freshmen, Mackensie Christesen, Brenna Acosta, and Haily Martinez. Of those 12, six come back for the Lady Broncs. They are Alverez, Blunkall, Opferman, Hayes, Hartman and Baker.
Moss’ goal as the coach is to take the HDL, and bring another CIF softball title home to Kern Valley. She said, “Obviously our goal each year is to win league and win CIF. I feel like we have a team that is very capable of doing very well this year.”
Her goal for the players is to see improvement every time they step on the field. She said, “My goal for each player is to end the season better than when they started. We believe that you should get better each time you come out on the field. If we do this, we’ll be in a pretty great spot at the end of the season.”
Some of the key losses from last year were Lexi LaFarga and Taylor Tito. Both were four-year varsity players. They also lost Grace Overholt and Ruth Lorenzo. Lorenzo was an exchange student who returned home to Spain. Tayah Bushling decided to take this year off from softball.
Hoping to make an impact according to Moss will be Hayes and Acosta. Hayes was injured for most of last season and hopes to stay healthy to help lead Kern Valley. Acosta will lead a talented freshmen group.
Moss said, “Although technically not an addition, our pitcher Helen Hayes was hurt most of the season last year. It’s great to have her back and healthy. We’ve also added three strong freshmen led by Brenna Acosta.”
In the non-league the head coach wants to see where the players line up. Working forward to be in great shape for league and then the playoffs.
Moss said, “We are still working on cementing a line-up and positions, so I think the non-league is going to be good for that. We have more games against Central Section opponents than we have in the past. This will help us find our place for post season as well. We always have great weekends at the Mira Monte and Wasco tournaments, and I’m expecting the same this year.”
The HDL will be a chance for the Lady Broncs to get back on top. They will have to overcome a strong Rosamond squad to get there.
Moss said, “Rosamond is always tough. We had a rough last year after losing Helen (Hayes), and lost a few games to Frazier and Bishop in league. We’re definitely looking to turn that around this year.”
The strength of this year’s Lady Broncs looks to be the pitching of Hayes, the offense and the strong defense. Moss said, “One of our strengths is pitching with Helen. She had 70 strikeouts in the six games she played last year. Our offense is led by senior Alvarez. She’s one of the best shortstops we’ve ever seen play the game.”
The key area that needs work is the youth of some of the players. Moss said, “We do have a few young and inexperienced players who are new to the team who will be called on to fill some starting roles. This is something that will just take some time to work out.”
In closing Moss said, “I am very excited to be stepping into the role as head coach and also very grateful to have awesome assistant coaches. The girls are very excited about this year and are really expecting to make a statement on the field. They are a great group of girls to watch. We’ve had some fun work and improvements done to the field and the overall attitude out there is excitement. We can’t wait to start play on March 6 (Tuesday) and then home on March 9.”
With the new head coach really being a continuance, the varsity softball program seems to be shaping up quite nicely. Of course they still have to play the game, but the possibilities seem endless.