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30-win Vikings log best season since 2015

Wed Jun 21, 2023

Mix together a 30-10 overall record, a 2nd-place Coast Conference finish, the 2nd-longest winning streak in the CCCAA, an undefeated March, a 18-1 regular season home mark, a CCCAA regional playoff series win, and ten All-Coast players and one has the 2023 West Valley softball team. The 30-10 overall and the 12-2 Coast records are the most in both categories since the 2015 Coast Champions went 30-9 and 13-3.

The Vikings were 12-0 in March and won 18 straight from March 1 through April 11. The winning streak, combined with wins over then-#2 Monterey Peninsula and #6 College of San Mateo, catapulted WVC to the #4 spot in the April 5 California Community College Fastpitch Coaches Association (CCCFCA) state poll. They would finish the year 7th in the state in the final CCCFCA poll (4/26). WVC went 18-1 at home in the regular season and didn't lose a Coast Conference contest at Viking Field. West Valley swept College of the Sequoias 4-1 and 10-1 in the opening round of the CCCAA NorCal regionals, its first playoff series victory since 2015.

"This season was truly amazing," said WVC coach Vicky Piatt. "We had experience and leadership that allowed us to cultivate a season where the little things mattered and were taken care of daily. Our athletes fully immersed themselves into this season and were committed to a championship mindset."

It didn't hurt to have two of the state's best pitchers on Piatt's staff. Shelby White was 13-6 with a 1.81 ERA and was named the CCCFCA Pitcher of the Week the first week of April. She led the team with 10 complete games, 120 innings pitched and 96 strikeouts. Rhiannon Underhill finished 11-2 with a CCCAA-3rd-best and Coast-leading 0.88 ERA. Underhill gave up just 11 earned runs in 87.2 innings pitched and didn't give up an earned run in an amazing 11 straight appearances to begin the season. The team posted 13 shutouts and its 1.81 ERA was 5th in the state. The Vikings gave up only 67 earned runs, good for 3rd in the CCCAA.

Offensively, the Vikings outscored opponents 210-88 and run-ruled teams ten times. The team slashed .291/.376/.364 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and out-RBI'd opponents 165-80. Kassady Alcazar lead the team with three homers, 18 RBI and a .531 SLG%. Emma Courtney also topped the team in a trio of offensive categories: a .456 OBP, six doubles and 14 stolen bases, along with 16 RBI. Bella Sweet posted a team-high .384 average.

Ten Vikings, pretty much Piatt's usual starting lineup card, earned All-Coast honors in 2023. Named to the 1st team were Underhill, White and Sweet, while Alcazar, Courtney and Isabella Gallegos were 2nd team selections. Coast Honorable Mention went to Reyna Cruz, Abigail Desa, Sydney Heming and Kaylee Ramirez. All ten were second-year players, illustrating the experience and leadership Piatt spoke of.

"I am so proud of the legacy our sophomores left behind," Piatt said. "They have set a standard and have set the bar high for future Vikings. We have developed and emphasized a culture that focuses on taking care of the little things and have succeeded in doing so."

14 2023 Vikings are moving on to four-year colleges. Sweet will be playing at Sonoma St., while Underhill and Natalie Clevenger will both play for the University of Saint Katherine. White will be hurling at Menlo College. Ramirez will play at NAIA power Ottawa University in Arizona, while Jessie Taketa signed with the University of Antelope Valley. Desa is deciding between Hawaii-Hilo and UC Davis to continue her playing career. Alcazar is weighing offers from a number of schools, as are Courtney and Dezmyre Cruz. Graduating from WVC and continuing their academic careers are Alaysia Clincy, Reyna Cruz, Heming and Gallegos.

With ten players expected to return for the 2024 season and a much-heralded incoming class of pitchers, big hitters and speed, the Vikings look to build on the legacy of 2023.