CASTROVILLE—It’s been two years since the North Monterey County High softball team won the Central Coast Section Division IV championship.
The starting lineup hasn’t seen much change since 2021, yet there are still a lot of skeptics who might be sleeping on the Condors after returning seven players from that same championship squad.
Their most recent success also promoted them into the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Gabilan Division with the likes of powerhouse giants such as Notre Dame of Salinas, Salinas, North Salinas, Monterey, Watsonville, Everett Alvarez and Hollister.
NMC will have its hands full with a tough schedule but manager Joseph Holmes believes this year’s team has what it takes to make some noise in the league’s top tier.
“I definitely see us competing in this league. It’s tough but we are just going to keep doing what we do,” he said. “We still have a lot of our girls from the 2021 championship team and we know how to win. It might not be the best all the time but we will always find a way to win.”
The Condors added two new players to their roster of 14 and the team chemistry should look stronger than ever.
In the circle will be four-year ace senior Amelia Visesio, who is committed to compete at the University of Saint Katherine next season. She has been the main arm for NMC and a big part in the growth of the program.
Visesio possesses four to five pitches in her arsenal that she will use to paint the corners, and she is also a dual threat with a powerful bat at the plate.
The Condors’ team captain believes they can be successful as long as they keep it simple and play their game.
“My expectations for this team is to play the way we know how to, win or lose, and have fun while we’re doing it,” she said. “Our team this year will struggle in this division, there is no doubt about that, but I think our team is very resilient and will be able to adjust throughout this season.”
Holmes said although they will be competing in the challenging PCAL Gabilan Division, he knows it will prepare the girls for upcoming CCS playoffs.
“Our goal is to make it to CCS,” he said. “I know our schedule is tough but the girls will build from it each game and learn. We will be ready for anyone thrown at us.”
Visesio has taken a big leadership role on the team and hopes to leave the program in good hands for the future.
“I have taken a bigger leadership role in terms of setting the tone for my underclassmen, meaning what expectations are expected from the coaches from us, and paving the way for them in the future when I am no longer there,” she said.
The roster also includes BYU-commit junior shortstop Ariyah Morgan, who is expected to make an impact everywhere on the field this year.
Morgan possesses a great arm that is just waiting for someone to test it out, and she’s a strong consistent batter at the plate as well.
“Ariyah [Morgan] is a stud, we can use her anywhere on the field and you can expect her to make plays,” Holmes said.
Morgan believes they will see some growing pains adjusting to the Gabilan Division, but she said it won’t stop them from reaching their goals.
“I think this can be a great season for us. We will struggle a bit with just having one pitcher, but we have great players and will give it our best every pitch,” she said.
Morgan added that she also wants to take a big leadership role this season.
“So far, I feel like I’ve been doing a good job at keeping the girls accountable and making sure they are doing what they need to do,” she said.
Morgan is currently one of the top hitters on the team batting .500 in their first four games of the season.
The brick wall behind the plate will be junior catcher Leslie Ruiz, who can make any pitcher confident to toss a pitch and know it’ll be protected by any means necessary.
At the plate, she’s expected to hit some balls over the fence as one of the Condors’ top home run hitters last season.
“Leslie is my rock back there, I can also count on her to make something happen back there,” Holmes said.
The infield includes sophomore Julia Oliva, junior Brooke Ramirez and up-and-coming freshman Samantha Scharton, who has already made an impact this season.
“Sam has really been putting in the work, as a freshman she has really impressed me,” Morgan said. “Excited to see her grow this season.”
Brooke Ramirez has been red hot at the plate lately, leading the team with nine hits and batting .600 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs.
In the outfield, the Condors have junior Johana Alonzo soaring in center field ready to make a play on balls hit her way. The speedster is able to track down fly balls that most can’t and she has a strong arm that will have base runners thinking twice about taking off on her.
“I know any ball hit to Johana is an out, she is a ball magnet and someone I can trust will have my back every play,” Visesio said.
Also in the outfield is senior utility player Jasymnne Oliva along with sophomore Mieha Vargas and junior Shayla Baldwin.
With the recent atmospheric river storms, NMC (3-1, 1-1) had to postpone seven straight games and have played just four games. It’s tough for teams to stay ready to play but Holmes said they won’t use it as an excuse and will need to be ready when it’s game time.
“After dealing with Covid-19, a little rain ain’t nothing but a change in schedule,” he said. “Our players are adapting perfectly on their own. We are just happy to play.”
The Condors began with wins over Gonzales, Pacific Grove and an impressive comeback victory in their league opener against Watsonville. They lost to Monterey, 10-7, in PCAL Gabilan Division action March 31 and dropped to 1-1 in league play.
NMC will make a short trip to Salinas for their next game to take on league powerhouse Notre Dame on Monday at 4:30pm.