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Younger faces mean new talent for girls softball

Team+captains%2C+Lauren+Greif+and+Riley+Mendoza%2C+huddle+with+infielders%2C+Katie+Gallegos%2C+Carolina+Ayapan+and+Karli+Spaid+during+a+break+in+action.+%28Photo+Courtesy+of+Lane+Tech+Softball%29
Team captains, Lauren Greif and Riley Mendoza, huddle with infielders, Katie Gallegos, Carolina Ayapan and Karli Spaid during a break in action. (Photo Courtesy of Lane Tech Softball)

Team captains, Lauren Greif and Riley Mendoza, huddle with infielders, Katie Gallegos, Carolina Ayapan and Karli Spaid during a break in action. (Photo Courtesy of Lane Tech Softball)

Team captains, Lauren Greif and Riley Mendoza, huddle with infielders, Katie Gallegos, Carolina Ayapan and Karli Spaid during a break in action. (Photo Courtesy of Lane Tech Softball)

By Jadyn Dubach

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Last season, the team experienced the loss of half their teammates, a coach, and the city championship for the first time in nine years.

Despite those challenges, the girls have worked hard this winter to get better, and attempt to re-establish their dominance in the Chicago public red conference.

One of the biggest changes this season has been the announcement of the new varsity coach: Charles Rocha previously coached girls softball at Regina Dominican High School and several travel softball teams.  

“He is very passionate about the sport and believes that hard work pays off,” said Katie Gallegos, Div. 952. Gallegos is one of the three varsity athletes who has been on the team since their freshman year.  

“The foundation of last year’s team was built on the joy of the game,” Gallegos said. “That will not change this season and if anything it will be exemplified with our new coach.”

The team lost eleven seniors and is now also faced with the challenge of creating an almost entirely new line up. The remaining players now have to adjust to a completely new group of many younger girls.

He [Coach Rocha] wants us to have fun without forfeiting our excellence and I think all those beliefs are refreshing as we continue to recover from last year,” Gallegos said.

Losing 11 players, most of whom were starters, definitely took a toll on the team but that isn’t going to stop them from achieving success this season.

This year, varsity has 15 athletes as opposed to 19 and only half of them are returners. Even though there are new faces this season, the girls’ talent is no less than previous years.

I think we have all of the pieces to be better than we were last year, it’s just a matter of figuring out how they all fit together,” said  Carolina Ayapan, Div. 756.

Ayapan has been playing at the varsity level since her freshman year. With that, she has created a relationship with many players on the team and former players as well.

“We are all excited to incorporate the new players into our team,” Ayapan said. We have a lot of talent on this team and I think we’ll all mold together.”

The team has a strong bond that has evolved over the past few years, and this new season will determine if that bond with the new girls will progress.

Aside from the vast modifications being implemented, the team is so far handling the adjustments well.

“It all comes down to having common goals and coming together to achieve them,” Ayapan said. “We all want to win and that’s something we’re going to have to achieve as a team.”

The team will also be playing their first out of state tournament in recent history. They will be traveling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, during spring break to compete in the tournament.

All together, the team has raised over $18,415 with an overall goal of $18,500 in order to afford the trip. Not only will this trip be a new experience for the program but the players hope it will “bond the team’s together and help us grow as not only a program but as a family,” Gallegos said.

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Younger faces mean new talent for girls softball