Lady Trojans aim for return to postseason

By: Nick Pecoraro Telegraph Correspondent
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The winds of change are blowing over the Oak Ridge softball diamond. The Lady Trojans are looking toward a bit of a rebuilding season in 2012. After a 14-10-1 campaign in 2011, Oak Ridge graduated two of its top three players from a year ago: pitcher Kasey Stanchek (University of Washington) and third baseman Jenessa Jeppesen (UC Santa Barbara). Also absent from the Trojan roster is near-decade long head coach Marc Bentovoja, who hands the reigns over to his former assistant Sam Kloczko, who had been the assistant coach for the varsity team at Oak Ridge for the past two seasons and the head JV coach in years prior. Kloczko believes that his team will still be competitive in spite of its transformation. “This year’s team is pretty comparable to last year’s,” he said. “I hate to use the word ‘rebuilding’ but we lost a No.1 pitcher and a couple other key positions. We should still be really close to where we were last year.” Filling the void that Stanchek left inside the circle will be a rotation of junior Christina Arace and sophomore Alyssa Burns with junior Nicole Martin occasionally playing the role of closer. None of the three have much varsity pitching experience; an area that Kloczko feels could be one of interest in terms of team needs this season. As far as strengths, Kloczko believes that there is plenty of speed throughout the lineup with Jade Matsumoto and Jackie Schmaeling at the top and shortstop Lauren Bertoy occupying the middle of the order. Bertoy has impressed in Oak Ridge’s first few games this season. “Even though (Bertoy) isn’t very big, she has a lot more power than people think,” said Kloczko. “She’ll be a catalyst in the three-spot and she has the potential to be one of the top players in the area.” The Delta River League, as usual, will be one of the deeper leagues in the Sacramento area. Last year’s league champion, Sheldon, returns many of its key players as well as St. Francis and Ponderosa. Oak Ridge finished fourth in the league last year at 5-5, missing the postseason for the first time in years. “Our goal is to get back in,” Kloczko said. “The league is brutal. Sheldon will be tough but the rest of the league will be in a dogfight for the last two playoff spots. I think what will separate teams two through five will come down to getting breaks in a game. This league is tough.”