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IVC softball hoping to continue trend

January 30, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

A year ago the Imperial Valley College softball team completed an impressive turnaround following a below average season in 2000.

IVC went 7-22 overall and 3-15 in the Pacific Coast Conference in 2000 and bounced back with a 15-17-1 overall mark and 7-8 record in PCC last year.

The Arabs will be looking to continue the trend this season and improve upon their 2001 marks.

While IVC had the luxury of a veteran, sophomore-laden squad a year ago, it enters the 2002 season with only four returnees — Adela Green and Olga Noris of El Centro and Calexico's Jenny Burgos and Jennifer Briseño.

"This is a very hard working bunch of girls," Arabs coach Jill Lerno said. "And I think the returning sophomores on this team will provide the leadership that is needed for these freshmen.

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"In that sense, though, I really don't think there's any added pressure on our sophomores to carry this team. They've played a lot of ball in the past and have been in a lot of pressure situations similar to this."

An aspect Green thinks will be beneficial is that most of the players have past experience playing with each other, whether in high school or on travel teams.

"I think already knowing each other from past softball experiences makes things easier on us because we're already comfortable with each other," said the 19-year-old Green, the team's third baseman. "I think that's important because we all already have good chemistry on the field, which helps out during games."

Joining the four sophomores on the team will be freshmen Heather Aguilar, Amber Marquez, Jennifer Ramirez and Christina Apalategui of El Centro, Mercedes Gonzalez of Brawley and Christina Santos of Calexico.

One of the most important pieces to this team's puzzle is the addition of Central Union High flame-thrower Maria Hansen-Perez. An all-everything in high school, Hansen-Perez was considered one of the best pitchers in the Imperial Valley in high school and arguably was one of the best in the San Diego Section last year.

With Hansen-Perez, Lerno thinks one of the strengths of the team will be pitching.

"We have a very strong freshman pitcher in Maria and we have an experienced sophomore with Jenny (Briseño)," said Lerno. "I think having Maria will help us a lot. She's very smart on the mound and on the field. She has a wide range of talent and knows the game very well in all aspects."

"I think we have a lot of talented players that have played a lot before and have experience," Hansen-Perez said. "Because we only have (four) returning players and because the majority of the team is playing on the college level for the first time, I think we'll all be a little nervous. But I think we have a pretty good team and I think we'll be fine."

The Arabs kicked off the season this weekend at the Los Angeles Valley tournament where it went 1-2. The team's first home game of the year will be at 3 today as it hosts College of the Desert.

"I think looking at this team, we have the talent to do better than we did last year because we have those experienced players that have been playing most of their lives," Lerno said. "And I think we'll hang in every game that we play, but we will be put to the test and that's where the girls have to come through and show their experience."

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