The Columbia Basin College softball team has plenty of reasons to be excited about opening its NWAACC East Region schedule.
CBC (7-5) will begin regional play at home this afternoon against Blue Mountain and Saturday against Treasure Valley. Though the Hawks lost their last two games to Southwestern Oregon, which won the South Region in 2012, they broke into the NWAACC coaches poll this week at No. 8. Their preseason record is well ahead of last year’s 4-7-1 mark.
“We talk a lot about using our past failures to help us be successful,” third-year head coach Adrian Ochoa said. “You can’t be successful unless you fail. We’re taking the failures we had last year and using them as learning tools and motivation to help us succeed this year.”
The Hawks went 6-22 last season in the East, but CBC is riding the strength of its Mid-Columbia recruiting this year.
Richland product Bailey Walthers is batting .405 (15-for-37) with seven RBIs. Walthers is the everyday third baseman, though she also can play shortstop.
Ochoa has put Kendra Boehning (Chiawana) in right field and former Southridge outfielder Hannah Sams in left.
Prosser’s Gabby Meza has split time in the circle with Othello sophomore Brenda Rodriguez. Meza enters regional play with a 4-0 record and 4.24 ERA in 33 innings.
Rodriguez (3-2, 26 IP, 8.34 ERA) is doing damage at the plate along with former Huskies JoAnna Quezada and Miranda Martinez. All three are hitting over .340.
Perhaps the biggest boost for CBC came when former Kennewick outfielder Ashlen Ayres transferred from North Idaho College. She leads the Hawks in batting average (.475), hits (19), RBIs (11), home runs (2) and doubles (4).
“She’s playing at a level we expected her to play,” said Ochoa, who coached Ayres in travel ball. “Ashlen knows our coaching style, and it was just a great fit for her.”
CBC has seven returning players, including former Richland standout Madison Chambers and Moses Lake’s Lacey Padilla.
“Last year was a challenging year,” Ochoa said. “It was a tough year for our kids who are now sophomores. They got a taste of what it’s like to go through a tough year. They’ve matured a lot. They don’t want to go through that again.”
Mid-Columbia players in the NWAACC East
Wenatchee Valley College Knights (26-2 NWAACC East in 2012): SS/OF Haley Hess, fr., River View.
Walla Walla Community College Warriors (24-4): IF/RHP Kate Hawk, so., Connell; IF/OF Paige Pontarolo, fr., Walla Walla; IF Cheyanne Lawson, fr., Hermiston.
Treasure Valley Community College Chukars (18-10): No Mid-Columbia players.
Community Colleges of Spokane Sasquatch (17-11): RHP/1B Lindsey Walchli, so., Richland.
Big Bend Community College Vikings (9-19): 2B Savanah Scarborough, so., Walla Walla.
Blue Mountain Community College Timberwolves (7-21): RHP/1B/3B Nicole Brown, fr., Touchet.
Yakima Valley Community College Yaks (5-23): OF/2B Kylie Harper, fr., Othello; 2B Krysta Beach, so., Kamiakin; IF/OF Ashley Van Tress, fr., Grandview.