Though 12 games have come and gone for the Columbia Basin College softball team, the season begins today, as far as the Hawks are concerned.
And what better way to start NWAACC East Region play than against the six-time defending regional champion?
CBC (4-7-1) welcomes Wenatchee Valley College to Pasco for an regional-opening doubleheader. Last year, the Knights tied with Walla Walla Community College for the East Region's top record and took third in the NWAACC tournament in Portland.
Before the season, CBC coach Adrian Ochoa said he planned the Hawks' nonregional schedule in anticipation of the East Region, which he called the toughest in NWAACC softball.
"We always seem to step up and play pretty well against the Wenatchees and Walla Wallas," he said. "They're some big rivals. Wenatchee always is tough. Shelly (Pflugrath, WVC coach) does a great job with the program there, and we always seem to battle pretty good."
This week, Wenatchee Valley supplanted Walla Walla for the No. 1 spot in the NWAACC poll.
Wenatchee Valley landed eight players on the 2011 East Region first team. Though only one of those honorees, Ashley Van Horne, is back, the Knights (10-3) have reloaded. Freshman pitchers Hailey Bator and Kirstie Thomas each have sub-1.00 ERAs. Van Horne is batting .488 (20-for-41) with 16 RBIs and an NWAACC-leading five home runs, and first-year player Sarah Goodman is hitting .400.
But the Hawks have plenty of offensive power, too. Richland product Madison Chambers and fellow freshman Kelsey Randich are batting over .400, and catcher Julissa Perales is hitting .385. Chambers tops the NWAACC with 18 RBIs.
"I pretty much knew going into the spring we'd hit the ball well," Ochoa said. "We have some kids who have made some good adjustments. We played three of the top four teams in the NWAACC and got some good compliments from coaches about our hitters."
In the circle, sophomore Renee Mulcare has a 5.32 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 471/3 innings. Freshman Shawney Garcia owns a 6.62 ERA, but she has walked just six batters in 302/3 innings.
w Katie Dorsey: 582-1526; kdorsey@ tricityherald.com