THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.— The Cal Lutheran softball team will feature experience and youth as they look to make some noise during the 2019 season. The Regals return nine players, all of which saw action a year ago, and welcome in six transfers and seven freshmen.
The Regals are poised to make a run this year and in the future years with only one senior, but a plethora of younger talent. Key positions will need to be filled, after last year saw six seniors graduate, and with all the talent that was brought in, those spots will have to be earned.
"This is definitely a big class of new faces," said Head Coach Debby Day. "We are excited at what these new personalities bring to our program and look forward to a lot of success with this big roster.
"We knew we had some really big shoes to fill after graduating six really important seniors. We went after some transfers to make sure that we had experienced players coming in for the right positions."
The lone senior is Rachel Barker, a transfer from Humboldt State, whose team made two NCAA tournament appearances. In her final collegiate season, the catcher/infielder looks to lead the Violet and Gold to a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) playoff berth.
The junior class is the biggest and boasts six returners and six transfers. Kendall Marinesi is back after a standout sophomore season. The infielder was NFCA All-Region Third Team, All-SCIAC First Team and CoSIDA Academic All-District a year ago.
Joining Marinesi for their third season at CLU is catcher Lexie Findley, pitcher Sierra Scali, pitcher Olivia Serrano, infielder Catherine Slabaugh and pitcher/outfielder Brittany Workman. The Regals return all of their pitching with Workman and Serrano combining to start 34 of the 40 games last year. Slabaugh played all 40 games in the outfield and Findley saw action in 16 games.
The junior transfers, looking to show what they can do at CLU, include infielder Danielle Chatman, infielder Celeste Ekman, outfielder Lauren Salvati, infielder Jordan Vallejo and infielder Sienna Vannoy. Chatman, Ekman, Salvati and Vallejo were all named First Team all-conference at their previous schools.
"Not only did we lose the six seniors, they all had major impacts on our successes over the last four years," said Day. "We are looking to everybody to step into different roles throughout the year. Early on I would expect these new faces to be major contributors. New infielders Chatman, Ekman, Van Noy and Barker will have a major impact.
"We will definitely still count on Marinesi who is coming off a standout sophomore season. Our pitching staff came back in great shape with Serrano and Workman leading the pack. We are fairly young, but all of our players including our newcomers come in with a lot of experience playing at high levels. Salvati has stepped right in to be the outfield leader along with returner Slabaugh."
Ready to step into the program and compete in their first season is pitcher Sammy Edmonds, pitcher Taryn Faull, outfielder Rilee Grau, outfielder Courtney Haapanen, outfielder Jazren Mojica, outfielder Mia Onesto and infielder Stephanie Ramirez.
"This group has really bonded quickly in every aspect – physically, emotionally, mentally," said Day. "They have fun together, work hard together and still hold each other accountable.
"This group continues to set a high bar every day at practice. They've been an absolute pleasure to work with for the last few weeks. Our goals are to finish in the top four in conference and qualify for the SCIAC Tournament and hopefully play our best softball in April to go even farther."
Cal Lutheran starts the season Saturday at La Verne. The Regals and Leopards play a double header with set games set for 12 and 2 p.m.
2019 Roster: Regals Softball
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Release by Ryan Jorgenson, Sports Information Director