Having graduated nine seniors off last year’s Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division championship team, Los Gatos High softball coach Randy Frey acknowledged this year’s squad will be more reliant than ever on senior Anna Bean.
It’s easy to see why. Though the team is talented, Bean is unquestionably the Wildcats’ best pitcher and hitter. Last season, Bean hit .451 with nine home runs and 39 RBI in 26 games. In the circle, the right-hander was often dominant, with 122 strikeouts in 88 innings.
“It’s pretty safe to say we’re going to go where she takes us,” Frey said. “I think we can contend for a league championship, but the big key is Anna Bean staying healthy, and there’s nothing to think that she won’t stay healthy because she doesn’t have a history of injuries. She’s definitely the key to our season this year.”
Bean is one of the team’s three captains along with junior Alexa Musser and senior Daisy Moore. Musser, a left fielder and third baseman, hit a solid .275 last year and has returned with a more potent bat which is why she’s hitting in the No. 2 spot this season.
Moore is projected to be the center fielder once she returns from injury. The Wildcats are strong behind the dish with returning sophomore Annika Norquist, who is projected to hit in the No. 4 slot. Whoever bats in the cleanup spot will get something to hit because it’s likely opponents won’t pitch to Bean who hits third in the order.
Norquist hit .345 last season and can also play the outfield.
“Annika has a cannon for an arm, hits, and was honorable mention all league last year,” Frey said.
The team is strong up the middle with freshman shortstop Grace Tucker and sophomore second baseman Clare Torres, who hits leadoff.
“They’re as strong a shortstop and second baseman combination I’ve ever had [in 10 years here],” Frey said. “They’re very solid, sound defensively and both can hit. Just complete players. They get around the bases well, have great arms and great range.”
Junior utility Sydney Bacheller, a Monta Vista-transfer, can play the corner infield positions, catcher and the outfield. Sophomore Ria Sharma will play a valuable role as the No. 2 pitcher, particularly since the team has a couple of tournaments coming up and plays multiple games in one day.
She also plays center field. Tucker is the No. 3 pitcher and Frey might have to go to her for a spot start or in relief because the recent storms have led to a postponement of two games and potentially more to come.
“I wasn’t really planning on pitching her a lot, but I have to have a third pitcher because you never know what’s going to happen,” Frey said. “I’ve been throwing her in practice and she looks good. She doesn’t pitch for her club team anymore, but she certainly knows how to pitch still.”
Sophomore twins Lily and Robyn Young figure to be contributors, though Robyn is still recovering from a thumb injury. Sophomore Addie Sorto is the team’s backup catcher and plays third base and the outfield. Senior Angie McCloskey and junior Eva Fein round out the roster.
By far, the biggest challenge for the team so far has been the lack of game time. Due to its field being unplayable from the recent storms, Los Gatos entered the week having played just one game, a 7-1 loss to Branham on March 1.
Despite having a relatively young group—the Wildcats started a freshman, five sophomores, two juniors and a senior in that contest—Frey is optimistic for the season.
“The more this group plays together and learns to play together, the better they’re going to get,” he said.