Softball team reborn, fails to win


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Coach Taylor Harris (middle) has adjusted the way the softball team is coached because of the level the team is at. Harris has coached a seasoned team before, and now takes up the challenge to start off with an inexperienced squad.

By Luis Cortes, Advocate Staff

For the first time since 2016 Contra Costa College fielded a softball team this spring. And although the team didn’t have much success on the field, there are reasons for optimism as the program heads into the 2019-20 academic year.

Newly appointed coach Taylor Harris was tasked with finding enough players to fill a playable roster in order to have a season, and she accomplished that goal mostly with players who had never played softball before. Only a handful of 2019 Comet players had any experience playing softball.

Harris patiently helped her players develop by teaching them the fundamentals and taking their progress one step at a time. The result was the Comets, who lost all 10 of their games, improved gradually, week-by-week.

It began with two blowout losses to Mendocino College. Three days later the Comets played their second home series, this time against Yuba College. The Comets showed much improvement in a short period, even though they did not have a pitcher on the roster and were forced to use position players on the mound during the contest.

The team scored its first runs of the year in the second inning of the first game of that Yuba doubleheader and got six hits in the game, a vast improvement in just a few days time. What ultimately hurt the Comets was their lack of pitching, defense and experience — not effort.

The constant theme throughout the season was the effort shown by the Comet players, even as the blowout losses and shutouts continued.

The softball team played only 10 games this season because of a late start to the season. CCC canceled its last series at eventual Bay Valley Conference champion Solano Community College because the Comets did not have enough players available to play, ending their season with 10 games played, the least of all community colleges in California.

Harris said she had one expectation coming into the year and that was to field a team and help her players have fun, learn and progress.

“I would say that was accomplished,” she said.

Harris said now that the 2019 season is over, she can focus on essentially building a new program.

“The next few seasons will be challenging because it’s a new program, confidence is low and there isn’t a lot of athletic awareness (on campus),” she said.

Coach Harris said there was interest toward the end of the season, with some new players wanting to play. She plans to recruit this summer by attending softball tournaments and high school games.

“I’m thankful for the girls who played this year — great women who came together who had never played before,” Harris said.

“The (recruiting) goals are to go to tournaments and high school games, creating relationships during the process and hopefully finding players who want to stay close to home and spend a little bit less (on school).”

Coach Harris describes her first year as CCC softball coach as a bumpy road that she had fun maneuvering.

Catcher Ariana Rhodes said it felt good to be able to play this year because for most of her softball career she had to deal with a lot of letdowns because of the years her teams had to forfeit games because of a lack of players and a season where she had to beg people to play.

Rhodes said she understood the team might not win games this year because most players were new to the game.

“I understood we might not win many games because of the players we had on the team, so I didn’t put too much pressure on myself or my teammates because that would create a hostile atmosphere — one that won’t be any fun, like a job, not a sport,” Rhodes said.

“In the future I want the campus to come out and enjoy the team, and have people participate, to try it out because they might enjoy it, and that will build a successful program,” she said.

Athletic Director John Wade said a lot of players wouldn’t be returning and there will be a new team on campus next season. The goal is to target players that are on campus and playing softball in the college’s service area.

For the winless season, Wade said in any sport no one wants to lose but sees it as an opportunity to try to build a competitive team.

He said it’s not fair to judge a coach on one year because he doesn’t expect anyone to come in and have a tremendous amount of success in just one year.