Season ends for BVC softball


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Comet pitcher Hulita Latu pitches during the Comets’ 16-2 loss against the Los Medanos College Mustangs at the Softball Field in the first game of a doubleheader on March 14.

By Rob Clinton, Sports Editor

Despite early signs that softball for the teams remaining in the Bay Valley Conference would be rescued from the brink of elimination, the reality of how flimsy the four-team league actually was has finally come to fruition.

Over spring break, Athletic Director John Wade and softball coach Karolyn Gubbine made the decision to scrub the already shortened season after lackluster participation, performance and eventually the inability of some of the Comet players to fully commit to the team

“It’s devastating,” Wade said. “We thought that we had at least 12 or 13 committed and to get down to eight when we only need nine to participate, it’s just tough,” Wade said.

“It’s not fair to the (committed) girls. There are multiple reasons this continues to happen — academic (issues), personal decisions, conflicting schedules — they all affect participation.”

BVC play began March 14 in the four-team conference with the league season compressed to a mere 18 games.

When opening play, participation rates for the other three teams playing the 2016-17 season were all below their usual roster size.

Mendocino College had only 11 players, and Los Medanos College had the largest team with 13.

Yuba College was in the middle with 12 players and CCC had the fewest players with 10.

“You think the commitment is there but it’s not. It’s a missed opportunity for the players who really want to be here, but it came down to not having enough numbers,” Gubbine said.

“Some of the girls just got fed up. I can’t blame them for not wanting to waste their time with non-committed teammates and the added uncertainty within the conference.”

The BVC nearly lost its season this year before play began due to a number of colleges in the conference that were not able to field softball teams with at least nine players.

Last year seven teams competed in conference play. Both 2016 BVC champion Solano Community College and second place Napa Valley College were unable to gather the players needed to field teams this season.

Folsom Lake College, which was also in the BVC in 2016, moved to compete in the Big 8 Conference this year.

One silver lining that the coach sees for her team is the fact that some of the girls are still coming to practice despite losing the prospect of playing in front of family and friends.

“Hopefully we can build off of that,” Gubbine said.

One of the players still practicing with the team, Breen Romero-Villafranco, is still committed to the sport despite only reaching base once in her seven at-bats in the Comets’ four games this season.

“I still come to practice even though there is no season,” Romero-Villafranco said.

“I really like playing softball so am I disappointed that we are not playing — yeah. The reason that I still come to practice is for next season. It will be better than just starting fresh.”

For Comet softball, the previous twoseasons have been steeped in uncertainty as well due to low participation and an attitude of non-commitment of some players.

This attitude seems to be spreading throughout the BVC.

In those previous seasons, even with women placing their participation in the sport second, or even third, on their priority lists, the team was still able to complete a regulation season.

This season, when the BVC released its minimized game schedule, because of because of academic or personal obligations, the Comets were slated to miss as many games as they might have been able to play in 2017.

Many veterans on the team speculated that not playing at all would be better than potentially missing games periodically, like in previous seasons.

Comet pitcher and third baseman from the 2016 team, Stacey Fernandez, knows what it’s like to gear up to play only to learn that not enough of her teammates showed up to actually play on days games were scheduled.

She said allowing players to sit out the season while retaining their year of eligibility may work to improve the attitude and cohesiveness of the team going into next season.

“Canceling the season is a tragedy for the people that really wanted to play, and for the people that put the league together,” Fernandez said.

“However, canceling might be a good idea if there aren’t enough girls who have the determination to play. It’s hard to get women to participate in sports at CCC.

It’s even more of a rarity to find girls who love the game and want to play for fun rather than to be recruited or to have it on their transcripts.”

Gubbine hopes the prospects that she has already recruited for the following season coupled with the palpable enthusiasm that exists within the players that remain on the team will translate to wins in the future.