PASCO -- A new coach may be making the calls for the Columbia Basin College softball team, but the Hawks' goals remain the same.
"Obviously our goal is to head back to NWAACCs for a second straight year," said first-year coach Adrian Ochoa, who replaced Eric Weisgerber. "We'd like to finish in the top four in the East Region. I think we have the team and leadership to make it back to Portland."
CBC opens the 2011 campaign at noon today with a home doubleheader against Chemeketa.
Ochoa, a CBC assistant the past two seasons, was named head coach after Weisgerber resigned late last year. He has previous head-coaching experience at Queens University of Charlotte (N.C.), where he guided the team to the NCAA Division II tournament, as well as Big Bend Community College.
Ochoa said assistant coach Alex Cuello has been invaluable to getting up to speed for the new season.
Last year, CBC tied for third in the East Region with an 18-10 record and qualified for the NWAACC tournament. The Hawks lost to Bellevue in the first round and ended the season 27-16.
All-East Region second-team infielder Amanda Hall (Kennewick High School) and pitcher/second baseman Debbie Molsbarger (Connell) lead a core of six returning Hawks.
Last year, Molsbarger batted .437 with an NWAACC-leading 16 home runs and was named an NFCA/Louisville Slugger NWAACC All-American. On the mound, she had a 3.13 ERA and went 7-3 in 14 games.
Molsbarger will share most of the pitching duties this season with sophomore Taylor Bakos (Kennewick). Freshman Renee Mulcare, who won an Oregon state title last year at Pilot Rock, likely will be the third pitcher.
Ochoa said indoor workouts began Jan. 3 and that the players have started morning conditioning at 5:45, which has helped their chemistry.
"They are spending a lot more time together as a team," Ochoa said. "On the field, they are supporting each other, helping each other, motivating each other."
The Hawks will have had only nine outdoor practices before the season starts, which could affect the hitting.
"Pitchers always seem to have the upper hand earlier in the year," Ochoa said.
Baseball: CBC opens its season today with a home doubleheader against Prairie Baseball Academy. First pitch is at 11 a.m.
Steve Farrington is in his third year as coach of the Hawks, the defending East Region regular-season champions at 22-6. CBC lost both games in the NWAACC tournament and finished the season 33-15.