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Great finish by softball team

Photo of pitcher Julia Jimenez in action during a game.
All-Conference pitcher Julia Jimenez

The women's softball team has issued a challenge to all future Eagles’ teams. The 21 wins recorded by the squad are the most in the short history of the program.

It is the standard that all future softball teams will have to exceed to be judged better.

The Eagles just missed a playoff spot after winning seven of their last eight games. The strong finish left them in third place in the Western State Conference, just shy of a qualifying berth.

While last year’s team finished under .500 in Coach Kelly Lovato’s first season, the 2004 squad finished 21-17-2 – and 13-11 in conference.

"The 21 wins are fantastic for a program in only its second year," said Athletic Director John Klitsner. "There are a lot of teams that have been around a lot longer that can’t claim that many wins."

Lovato credits the mid-season turnaround to better execution by her players and to the maturity of pitcher Julia Jimenez. Originally a second base player, Jimenez grew into her role as the starting pitcher and helped spark the winning streak, Lovato said.

In addition to Jimenez, three other Eagles were named to the All Conference team: Samantha Dempsey, first base; shortstop Tamara LaBreche; and outfielder Jenna Puetz.

Photo of Coach Kelly Lovato
Coach Kelly Lovato

The season marked the end of Lovato’s coaching tenure. She is returning to Europe to compete semi-professionally with Antorchas, a women’s softball team in Valencia, Spain. Over the next year, she’ll also compete in Moscow and South Africa.

"I realized I’m at an age where this might be my last opportunity to play professionally," she said. The Mission College program will be in good hands when assistant coach Sandra Durazo takes over the reins next season, Lovato added.

Photos: Adrian Gonzalez / Lydia Chung