Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 | midnight
After a strong start to the 2008 season, the College of Southern Nevada softball team hit a 15-game losing streak and failed to reach their expectations.
This year, coach Ysidro Jiminez said the Coyotes have retained a number of key returners while bolstering their weak spots with top freshmen and should be able to make a run at a conference title.
With 10 returners, including seven starters, Jiminez said the Coyotes have a solid core of experienced talent back for the season that begins Jan. 30.
"Last year was eventful — that's the best way to put it," Jiminez said. "We had that big losing streak but we did end up above .500. I think the girls took it as a big learning experience. Our returners know what's expected now and they can show the new girls the ropes as we get going."
Jiminez said pitching was a weak spot for the Coyotes last season. They now have a deeper pitching staff led by sophomores Mandy Tapia, Janice Damo and Christina Jones.
Tapia carried the bulk of the innings last year going 17-18 with a 2.93 earned run average and 154 strikeouts. Jones picked up the slack going 13-9 with a 4.04 earned run average and 56 strikeouts.
Sophomore Tiffany Parker, a Silverado graduate, returns at catcher and said she's excited to work with the new staff.
"I think we had a pretty sound pitching staff last year we just weren't deep enough," Parker said. "Now we have so much of a variety on the mound we'll be able to throw our opponents off and that should help a lot. "
Offensively, the Coyotes return shortstop Amy Aicher, last year's team leader in batting average (.364) and RBIs (30), who went on to become the program's first player to be named third team All-American in the team's five-year history. They will also return outfielder Allison Barr who set the Coyotes' career home run record last year with eight.
"We should generate a lot of runs this year," Jiminez said. "We've got some good bats and we're a little quicker. "
The coach expects a solid year from sophomore first baseman Lindsey Headley.
Headley, a Green Valley High graduate, said with the good mix of offense, defense and pitching Jiminez has put together she thinks the Coyotes could be the team to beat.
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or [email protected].