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Baron softballers primed and ready for another title run John Philip Wyllie | Fri, Apr 23 2010 03:14 PM

Last year, the Bonita Vista Barons swept their Mesa League rivals en route to an unblemished league record and a league title. This year, veteran coach John Carlson expects his team to be every bit as good.

While Carlson concedes that his team's offense may not be quite as strong as last year's, the Barons' pitching and defense are rock solid.

Once again Carlson will be fielding a young team with just one senior (outfielder Elizabeth Vargas). Its youth, however, should not pose much of a problem given its experience. The core talent of this team has been together at Bonita Vista and on its club team (Bonita Valley) since they were 10-year-olds.

Sophomore Jennifer Hartman is the ace on a pitching staff that includes sophomore Taylor Valdivia and freshman Savannah Eckhardt. A year ago, Hartman was a second team all-league standout as a freshman. This year, she has simply picked up where she left off.

"Having a shutdown pitcher keeps you in every game and that is what we have in Jennifer," Carlson said. 

Defensively, junior middle infielders Jaycee Carlson at shortstop and Andrea Lara  at second anchor the team's defense with their consistent play. Jaycee Carlson won all-league accolades a year ago and is looking to surpass that performance this season.

Strong-armed junior right fielder Ruby Elliot is another returning all-league veteran. She will be joined by Hannah Flippin in centerfield and the aforementioned Vargas in left field.
Carlson will start a pair of sophomores at the corners. Celinna Cosio will start at first base and Anissa Pinedo will open at third. Another sophomore, Chelsy Ramirez, will handle the catching chores.

A year ago, Elliott had the best season at the plate. She hit .404 with 25 RBI, eight doubles and two home runs. Pinedo batted .383 with seven RBI and six doubles and Cosio posted a .351 average with 24 RBI and seven doubles.

If these players can continue to produce and if Carlson can develop a few additional hitters, the Barons should be in good shape. 

As in past years, the Barons are expecting a strong challenge from both Hilltop and Eastlake. That should provide for an interesting title race.

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