‘It’s been a huge adjustment’: Sac State softball team embraces changes entering 2021 season

2021 season began Friday against Cal Baptist

Sara Nevis, Gerardo Zavala, and Jordan Latimore

Deanna Sanchez and Mengting Tian

After COVID-19 swiftly ended the Sacramento State softball team’s spring 2020 season, the Hornets are back on the field with 18 players returning from the 2020 roster among the 25 athletes for the 2021 season.

The team played its first series this past weekend in the home opener versus Cal Baptist.

The Hornets are currently 2-3 after splitting doubleheaders against Cal Baptist and Saint Mary’s and then losing to Nevada.

Last season, Sac State ended with a 14-11-1 record in the 26 games it played before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Since the pandemic, training for the spring season was forced to stop until fall.

 “We were so ready to take on the season, so once we had to shut it down, we were all really upset about that,” said senior center fielder Charizma Guzman.

Senior Katie Vretzos, second base, said the season’s cancellation was tough, especially on the team’s seniors.

“Everything was tough, especially on the seniors last year, because in the middle of the season, everything stopped,” Vretzos said. “There was a really good team last year and there was a good chance to win, so it was pretty tough.”

Back at the diamond

Sophomore pitcher Skylar Mitchell practices her throwing during a practice at the John Smith Field at Sac State on Friday, Feb. 7, 2021. Mitchell did not get to play during the 2020 season due to injury. (Deanna Sanchez)

Guzman said that when practices were able to resume, the team was limited in the amount of players that could come and practice. 

“During the fall we were only allowed to be 12 at a time, and then the NCAA updated us to 24 players,” Guzman said.

Practices were able to return to having their full four-hour practices a couple of weeks ago, however, according to Vretzos.

“It’s been a huge adjustment having to wear a mask in the field and wearing a mask while exercising and through a four-hour practice,” Vretzos said.

She said keeping the team on the same page on new, changing rules this year has also been difficult.

The schedule of the regular season includes 41 games, consisting of 21 at home, 16 on the road and four at neutral sites. Of the 41 games, 18 will be against Big Sky Conference competition.

Although long-term inability to train may have an impact on the team this season, Guzman said the Hornets are confident enough to re-invest in practice. 

“I believe my team has enough talent and enough physical capability to jump right back into things,” Guzman said. “We’re looking really good in practice right now.”   

For the upcoming season, Sac State also has a tough challenge presented by the pandemic. Health issues and COVID testing are their biggest concerns. 

“I think due to COVID-19, we’ll be faced with a lot of challenges, and with COVID, our biggest focus will be everyone’s health and safety,” Perez said. 

The team will be conducting COVID-19 tests once a week to ensure that they are within the health value range to be able to participate in the game as scheduled.

“It will be weekly testing, and as long as our team and the opposing team are negative then we’ll be able to play, and we’re hoping that things will go as smoothly as possible, but we’re also prepared to make adjustments as needed, ” Perez said. 

The Hornets have made a lot of preparations and efforts for the new season and have great expectations for the new season, they hope the new season will go smoothly, Perez said. 

“Our goal every year is to win the Big Sky conference tournament,” Perez said. “The second is to maintain our academic, and our other goals, obviously going to be to try hopefully have the negative tests every week, and we have some other smaller goals as well, but would say those are the three biggest goals in the new season.”