The 2018 season was one to forget for the Live Oak High softball team. The Acorns finished 2-17 overall and 1-13 in the Blossom Valley League’s Mount Hamilton Division, which contributed to their switch to the Santa Teresa Division this season. Live Oak has plenty of reasons to believe it will experience a nice turnaround in 2019, starting with returning third baseman/catcher Kylie Plant, who hits leadoff and pointed to all of the girls being a year older and experienced this season.
“So far we look pretty good,” Plant said. “We have a good group and I’m excited to see what this season has in store for us. Honestly, I think this year will be a lot better because we’ve been together and it will help us to compete at a higher level.”
Acorns coach Sarah Porras echoed similar sentiments in regard’s to the team’s outlook.
“I think we have a really good group of girls,” said Porras, who is in her fifth season as the Live Oak coach. “They’re talented, they work hard and I think we’ll have a much more successful season.”
Porras hopes senior pitcher Nicole Bonino’s hard work pays off in the form of a dominant season in the B division.
“Nicole has gotten stronger and is throwing a little harder,” Porras said. “She’s put in some work to get her velocity up and is pretty accurate. She throws a good curveball and she’ll be our pitcher as often as we can throw her.”
Porras said Plant is a “player to watch out for,” someone who can play multiple positions well, possesses athleticism and leads vocally and with her actions. Emma Courtney, a sophomore outfielder, had the team’s highest on-base percentage through the first couple of games and possesses a potent bat.
“Emma is consistent and will do whatever it takes to get on base,” Porras said. “She’ll bunt, hit for power, slap the ball or do whatever she has to do to get on base. And that’s a big factor of having the team aspect in mind because a lot of girls want to be the one that goes up and hits home runs, but she’ll do whatever it takes to be productive.”
Sydney Bell, a senior shortstop, has returned to the team after missing last season due to injury. Porras was pretty pumped up as she talked about Bell’s return. As the team’s shortstop, Bell is basically in charge of the infield and making sure everyone is communicating and know where to position themselves for every situation. Sammy Evans, a senior center fielder/left fielder who could also pitch on occasion, and fellow seniors Kelli St. Clair, Bella Anglikowski and Alyssa Gonzales are also expected to be difference-makers.
During the travel ball season with the Gavilan Buzz, Plant worked diligently on honing her hitting skills, with the goal to become more offensive this season. Plant has a great attitude when it comes to getting on base—it doesn’t matter how she gets on base, just that she does.
“I try to get on base consistently and do my job,” she said.
Plant has been playing softball since age 5—“It’s always been my passion,” she said—and plans on playing at Gavilan College next fall with the goal of earning a scholarship to play at a four-year program. Porras expressed optimism for the program in that it has three freshmen—Emma Behl, Deja Jimenez and Adriana Johnson—who represent the future of the program. Jimenez, in particular, has the potential to be a regular starter, while Behl and Johnson will make an impact as well.