The California Baptist University’s softball team rose to the challenge of facing top-ranked Power 5 programs by beating the University of Mississippi and Michigan State University.
The team’s record is 10-14, and it has faced most of its competition on the road. Unfortunately, the rest of the season is suspended as a result of precautions taken to curb the spread of COVID-19. The suspension came at an unfortunate time, as the team’s chemistry was beginning to build, according to head coach Bill Baber. Baber said the team bonded during the time spent away traveling together and specifically found its groove during the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
“We have had some really fun times going to Puerto Vallarta,” Baber said. “I thought we came together as a team and our team culture was discovered. We talk about being happy for your teammate a lot — maybe you did not start but they did, (so) be happy for them and cheer them on. We have seen that a lot this year and we’re coming together with that.”
Baber said that the team played what he calls “CBU softball,” which is “good, solid softball.”
Deanna Alarcon, senior marketing major and second baseman, said she wanted to be the best leader on and off the field for her senior season.
“I wanted to be the best player on the field, as well as the best teammate on and off the field. I wanted to help younger players grow and feel comfortable within the program and help build them up to become leaders to the future players coming into the program,” Alarcon said.
As spring sports across the board were cut short in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Alarcon’s time playing at CBU came to a quicker close than she anticipated. The senior season that she dreamed of playing was taken away from her suddenly.
“All of the hard work and long practices my team had all year to just have our season ripped from us was not easy to accept,” Alarcon said. “As a senior, it’s been a lot to handle. For four years, I’ve put my heart and soul into this program and to have it end like that was heartbreaking. Not knowing if I will ever put on a uniform again is difficult but I know that all of this is God’s plan and I need to trust that everything will work out.”
Alacron said she is considering playing another season for the Lancers after hearing about the recent NCAA eligibility relief ruling, which grants spring student-athletes another year of eligibility.
Even so, athletes are coming to terms with what could have been possible this season. Giana Lopez, junior business administration major and pitcher for the Lancers, said her team was a contender for the Western Athletic Conference title.
“My goal this season was to win the WAC. I believe as a team this would have been a reachable and desirable goal that we could have accomplished successfully. But, before winning the WAC, our biggest goal as a team was to win the Seattle University series,” Lopez said.
Luckily, Lopez is a junior and still has one more year to compete for the WAC championship with CBU. The Seattle University series would have taken place March 20-21 but was canceled for the safety of players and event attendees.
Nonetheless, CBU softball was off to a strong start, beating highly ranked teams in just its second season in Division I. If not for the rapid spread of COVID-19, the team would have had a promising second half to its season with seniors paving the way to more victories.