Heading into their off-season Lancers softball did not perform in the playoffs as the athletes, their coaches, or the school, had fully hoped, but still managed to impress themselves and secure rank number 9 in Southern California (SoCal) and the State as a whole.
Out of 42 games this season, 22 of which were conference matches (14-8) and two being for the playoffs, PCC only lost 16 and were victorious in 26. When asked how well she felt the Lancers did this season, head coach Monica Tantlinger quickly replied, “Excellent!”
“Ever since we have taken over the program here at PCC we have had a better year, every year,” said Tantlinger. “This year was no exception. To be a top ten program in the entire State is pretty impressive in my opinion and we are happy with the results.”
Nolan Peralta, assistant coach who prepares the outfield agreed.
“The beginning of the season we set certain goals,” said Peralta. “For the most part, we achieved our goals and surpassed them. I think we had a great season. Every year…in terms of wins, in terms of numbers, every year, we see a growth in us getting better.”
Ending the season with a total of 243 runs, 7 home runs, 322 hits, and a batting average of .310, it’s clear the effort and determination from both players and coaches was apparent in each game. Their secret? Well, in preparing for each game, the Lancers not only warmed-up physically, but mentally, as well.
“On game day, we get them physically ready, warm, stretch, throw, hit grumbles,” says Tantlinger. “I think one thing that sets us apart from other teams is we focus a lot on the mental aspect of it. Right before a game we have our athletes visualize success, like actual specific situations they may be put in. We really focus on positive self-talk, calming breath, visualization, and execution.”
Assistant Coach Stephanie Marshall who prepares the pitchers and catchers, preps for games a little differently.
“Before every game we scout who we’re going to face. So we do research on what they’ve been doing all season, who are their best players, maybe we’ve played them before and we can look and see how we approached their hitters last time,” said Marshall. “So from a pitching standpoint we figure out a scoring report of the way we’re going to pitch to those batters, to try and get them out.”
No matter the preparation, the Lancers performed well this season, leaving a lasting mark in their overall performance as a team. In their game against Santa Ana College recently, the Lancers came out on top winning 8-0, earning them their spot in the playoffs as, at the time, Santa Ana was ranked number 8 in SoCal and PCC was number 10.
Going up against the number one team in State [Mt. Sac] for their last conference match, the Lancers may have lost, but it was 0-1, against a team that had been beating all other college’s by at least 4 or 5 runs.
“For us to go out there and compete that way, it was exciting,” remembers Tantlinger. “Even though it was a loss, it was a good reflection of who are team is and that we can compete with the best.”
As for the players, pitcher Austyn Helmuth and shortstop Kaylee Medrano shined through this season. Helmuth threw the majority of PCC’s innings and had the lowest ERA (Earned Run Average). Medrano, only made 5 errors in the regular season, lead the team in RBI’s (Runs Batted In) and on-base percentage, and out of all the colleges in the entire region, was picked for the All SoCal team, of which only 15 players are chosen, to compete in national championships.
Next for Lancers softball is summer.
“We start a summer class in June, and we’ll work out and practice 4 days a week for the 6 weeks, and then they’ll get 3 weeks off,” says Tantlinger. “Then they come back and play in the fall.”