Vikings’ softball season opener delayed until March 19
With five returning starters, including two all-leaguers, South Tahoe High’s softball team was poised to improve on a landmark 10-win season.
But critical preseason conditioning was lost because of a coaching flap. The focus in the offseason wasn’t on the players; it was on coach Joann Allister. Allister had to reapply for her position after the Lake Tahoe Unified School District implemented a new policy that requires varsity coaches to reinterview for their jobs after two years service. The reopening of the position denied her players fall and winter conditioning until Allister was rehired on Feb. 11.
“Without the opportunity for offseason training, this team will have to work extremely hard to get to the point of simply being competitive in a very tough league,” Allister said. “The varsity level is difficult, and it takes time to prepare. Unfortunately, these young ladies were denied that opportunity. Most of the teams in our league have been working together.”
The story took another twist on Thursday. Allister resigned a day before the season was scheduled to begin, and the school canceled the Vikings’ five-game participation in the Yerington tournament. The Vikings had a team meeting on Thursday but did not practice.
“A lot of emotion is going on when you lose a good coach like that,” said STHS Athletic Director Don Borges. “We are trying to do the best that we can. Just play softball is what we’re trying to do.”
Former STHS athlete Analeise Neitling and assistant coach Izzy Evans have stepped up to co-manage the team this spring.
The co-coaches have a core of experienced players who know what to expect and can help bring along the younger athletes.
The Vikings return speedy leadoff hitter Brittany Barcellos, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-state as a junior. Barcellos has become one of the fastest ballplayers in the state.
“She has three speeds: fast, faster and fastest. She covers the outfield like a glove and is feared by the rest of the league when she comes to the plate,” Allister said before her resignation.
Barcellos has already signed a letter of intent to attend Boise State University and play softball.
“I’m mainly excited because they are huge in athletics,” Barcellos said of her December signing with the Broncos. “They are in the WAC, which is one of the top conferences in the country. They are a brand-new softball program and are building from ground zero. I just felt comfortable with the coaches. It’s going to be a big change, but I’m ready for it.”
There is some pop to go along with Barcellos’ flash and dash. Moriah Lane, a second-team all-league selection as a freshman, is quickly becoming one of the top power hitters in school history. Lane hit three bombs a year ago, and the former South Tahoe Little League home-run champion should only add to that total in the years to come.
“She is becoming a tremendous hitter,” Allister said earlier this week. “Her time on varsity as a freshman served her well. Her confidence at the plate and her footwork at first base are worthy of a junior or senior.”
Also back for the Vikings are outfielder Sarah Breisacher and Missy Miller and Tiffany Racz, who both can play catcher and the infield. “Coming up to varsity last year, Sarah has increased her power with her arm and her stick,” the former coach said.
The Vikings welcome back two catchers. Miller logged many of the innings last year, but Racz, a sophomore, has proven she can play the position as well.
The Vikings, however, must develop their pitching staff. Gone is first-team all-league utility player Kelly Bartlett, who was the Vikings’ winningest pitcher a year ago. The plan was to promote JV pitchers to the circle.
“The newcomers will have to make a quick adjustment to the level of varsity play,” Allister said. “Every team has a legitimate 4A pitcher, and (the team’s) pitching will be untested at this level.”
Borges said South Tahoe won’t field a junior varsity team.
2009 STHS softball schedule
Date Opponent Time
March 19 At Carson 3:30 p.m.
March 21 At Carson (DH) 10 a.m.
March 25 WOOSTER 3:30 p.m.
March 26 At Wooster 3:30 p.m.
March 30 At Wooster 3:30 p.m.
April 2 At Manogue 3:30 p.m.
April 4 At Manogue (DH) 10 a.m.
April 9 At Galena 3:30 p.m.
April 11 GALENA (DH) 10 a.m.
April 23 FALLON 3:30 p.m.
April 25 FALLON (DH) 10 a.m.
April 28 DOUGLAS (DH) 3:30 p.m.
April 30 DOUGLAS 3:30 p.m.
May 7 DAMONTE 3:30 p.m.
May 9 DAMONTE (DH) 10 a.m.
May 14 Regionals TBA
Note: Home games are in ALL CAPS.