Softball finds new leadership with head coach Lori Perez

Clifton Jones

Sacramento State’s softball team has found a new leader heading into fall conditioning. Sac State upgraded pitching coach Lori Perez to head coach and brought in two brand new assistant coaches, Nichole Willis and Danielle Kaminaka.

Perez will take over this season after long time head coach Kathy Strahan retired after a 21 year career at with the Hornets.

The new coaching staff wants the players to go back to the fundamentals of softball.

“We have adjusted our practices to working on one specific element of the game and to put a lot of time towards it,” Perez said. “The coaching staff has focused on one-on-one experiences with each player as well.”    

Fall ball gives the Hornets an opportunity to get into shape for the upcoming spring season. It is also a chance for Perez to see the talent her team has.

Sac State brings back an experienced young team, including the entire pitching staff from last season, which led the Big Sky with a 1.72 ERA.

The pitching staff includes senior Taylor Stroud, junior Caitlin Brooks, sophomores Kaitlyn Yerby and Jennifer Hartman. Hartman and Yerby assumed the relief roles while Stroud and Brooks were starting pitchers.

Brooks emerged last season as the clear ace of the team finishing with a 1.81 ERA.

Sac State has two new transfers with collegiate experience in junior infielder Paige Castro from Fairleigh Dickinson University and sophomore first baseman and catcher Sasha Margulies from Ball State.

“Sasha (Margulies) has been driving the ball and playing defensively well this fall,” Perez said. “Paige Castro has come in and gave us another piece to the puzzle in putting together this team. She has been a great leader for us in the infield.”

Margulies said she didn’t know what to expect about the new team atmosphere at Sac State.

“I was a little worried, but my teammates have been awesome here,” Marguiles said. “I love the chemistry, whether its on the field, in the weight room or off the practice field.”

Even with most of the team returning from last season, there is no clear starting positional players at this point.

One player to look out for is redshirt freshman infielder Alexis Martinez, and her return from an injury that cost her the final 37 games of last season. Martinez tore almost every ligament and tendon in her knee last season including a dislocated kneecap.

“Alexis (Martinez) is out at every practice with us getting her rehab in and participating in some of the practices getting her knee stronger,” Perez said. “I dont know if she will be ready for the start of next season, but when she does, we will use her primarily as a designated player.”

Sac State finished its fall ball season with a record of 6-2-1, including wins against UC Santa Barbara, Chico State and San Francisco State. Its two losses came against rivals San Jose State and UC Berkeley.    

The Hornets will begin its season with a double-header Feb.8 against Pacific.