The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
College of San Mateo softball coach Nicole Borg insists a perfect season has not been a goal this season.
And yet, with just two games left in the regular season, the state’s top-ranked team finds itself in such a position.
“I guarantee we want to finish perfect, but that’s nothing we talked about all season,” Borg said. “But now? Let’s do it.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a 31-0 win over City College of San Francisco Tuesday to improve to 33-0 this season. It’s hard to believe that this team could eclipse last season’s team that went 42-4 with a star-studded lineup.
“You know how well rounded we were last year. Talent-wise, you went, ‘Wow! This is a pretty amazing group and we had an amazing record,’” Borg said. “This year, we have a special group, but it’s a small group. … The personnel we have (this season) is pretty exceptional. They’re very coachable. When we looked at in the fall, we didn’t have the one through nine who can bang the ball like we did last year. The girls have done a good job.”
When asked if there was anyone who has surprised her this season, Borg simply chuckled and said, “pretty much all of them.”
Let’s start, then, with the pitching staff which is mainly comprised of sophomores Lauren Berriatua and Lacie Crawford. The two didn’t see a lot of action in the pitcher’s circle last season, but have been unbelievable this season in combining for a 33-0 record. Berriatua is 21-0 with a state-leading 0.30 ERA. Crawford is 12-0 with a 1.47 ERA.
“Our pitchers have been phenomenal,” Borg said. “They’re different players this year. I think we do a pretty good job of assessing our team. I think we’re truly a program about development. You should be better as a sophomore.”
As is the case at the community college level, the Bulldogs have needed big contributions from their freshman class and they have responded. Harley Donovan, a freshman out of Half Moon Bay, leads the state in home runs (16) and RBIs (63) and is sixth in batting average (.548).
And she might not even be the best hitter on the team. Berriatua, in addition to her pitching prowess, is pretty solid at the plate, as well. Her .566 batting average is third in the state.
As a team, CSM’s .440 batting average leads the state.
“Overall, this is a great group,” Borg said.
The Bulldogs have proven to be one of the best teams in the state, advancing to the final four the last two years. The last box to check off then is to win a state championship.
Will this be the year? Who knows, but Borg knows whatever happens in the postseason can’t take away from what was accomplished during the regular season.
“You have to have a little bit of luck in your corner to win it all,” Borg said. “If you’re lucky to get back there (to the final four) three consecutive years, we can’t just be happy to just be there. Now, it’s about overcoming things maybe we couldn’t get past the last couple of years.
“I think we did a good job last year. We just got beat.”
So far in 2015, that hasn’t been the case. But Borg knows CSM has a huge target on its back for the rest of the season — however long it may last.
“On any given day, especially when you have a zero on the other side of your record, everyone is aiming for you,” Borg said.
Cañada College, hoping to stop the revolving door at its head volleyball coach position, has hired Chris Tigno as the new head of the Colts’ volleyball program.
“We had five coaches in five seasons,” said Cañada athletic director Mike Garcia. “Obviously, (we hope he brings) stability. He’s totally connected with the PAL coaches and just as important, the club coach scene.”
Garcia said he made the hire now to give Tigno enough time to recruit and hopefully put a quality product on the court, even if Garcia admits it’s a little late in the recruiting game.
“It is late in the process,” Garcia said.
But with Tigno’s local connections, Garcia is hoping he can quickly make up for lost time.
Tigno has spent the last eight years coaching at San Mateo High School, compiling an overall record of 124-119 and a Peninsula Athletic League mark of 57-55.
“Chris is, I think, the ideal fit for the program going forward,” Garcia said.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: email@example.com or by phone: 344-5200, ext. 117. You can follow him on Twitter @CheckkThissOutt