Cabrillo College sophomore Kasydi Bennett, left, and sophomore Ada Neu celebrate after the Seahawks beat Siskiyous College, 5-3, in non-conference play on April 8. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

It’s been 27 days since the Cabrillo College softball team suffered a defeat at the hands of San Jose City College. 

Not that freshman Brooklyn Llamas was counting, but she remembers it all too well because at that time it was a rude awakening for her and her teammates.

After collecting themselves, the Seahawks won 13 straight including a 5-1 statement win over the College of San Mateo in Coast Conference action April 9.

“That’s the thing that ultimately helped us, just flip the switch,” Llamas said. “A big thing is energy for us. At the beginning of the season we started off just like a little rocky because we were flat, completely dead.” 

With the win, Cabrillo improves to 8-3 in conference play, while San Mateo drops to 8-2.

Llamas said it was all the small errors and mistakes that resulted in defeats instead of victories. All of a sudden a spark of energy reinvigorated the clubhouse and team chemistry became a positive factor. 

“Everything just translated onto the field,” she said.

Ada Neu and Aaliyah Gomez each recorded two RBIs in the bottom of the sixth inning in their win over the Bulldogs (28-4, 8-2), who were the No. 3 team in the 3CFCA Coaches Poll and top ranked team in the North Coaches Poll going into Tuesday’s game. 

Llamas had two walks and scored one run against San Mateo. She is currently batting a .300 (32-for-97) average, including a Coast Conference-best four home runs to go along with six doubles, 30 RBIs and 14 runs scored. 

“[Llamas is] a great kid and I think more importantly her attitude out here is amazing,” Cabrillo head coach Kristy Rosinger said. “She’s a great follow-by-example type of player. She’s really bought into the system and worked really hard on her hitting with me in the fall. She’s impressed me a lot as a coach.”

Llamas is just one of several local talents on the Seahawks. She’s joined by former teammates Abreanna Alba and Maya Guerrero, who were all part of the Watsonville High team that won the Central Coast Section Division I championship in 2021. 

Other local standouts include Alicia Mendez and Gomez of St. Francis; Neu of Aptos; and Dillyn Vasconcellos and Victoria Sierra of Soquel. 

Once foes at the high school level, Llamas is now playing alongside them at the collegiate level. She said getting to know her new teammates, and building team chemistry is ultimately what’s helped them create a special bond.

“Although we were competing on different high school teams or different travel ball teams, we’re still out there competing for a spot on the team to win,” Llamas said.

Several players grew up playing travel ball together, allowing them to gel immediately once they arrived at Cabrillo. The plan for Rosinger is to usually land the local talent, but being in such a small community she also has to recruit outside of Santa Cruz County. 

“If I can keep it local, then that’s great,” she said. “It just depends on what talent level is coming out and how many seniors are coming out.”

The rest of the group features Alyssa Herrera of Escalon High, Kasydi Bennett of Yreka High in Quartz Valley and Bella Fromel of Lake Travis High in Austin, Texas. The trio are making huge strides at Cabrillo. 

It might’ve taken some time but Rosinger said the group is starting to bond as a team. She mentioned even though the roster is primarily sophomores, most of them are first-year players with the program.

“[It’s] understanding the system and buying into the system, communicating,” Rosinger said.

Rosinger believes once they can buckle down on defense, the Seahawks can begin to fully soar for a pivotal home playoff game. 

“We have a tendency to get complacent,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll go up early in a game and then just try to sit on that. We’ve been notorious for that.” 

Cabrillo beat Siskiyous, 5-3, in the second game of a non-conference doubleheader on April 8. The Seahawks took an early lead, but a couple of mistakes on defense allowed the Eagles to get back in the contest. 

Rosinger said a big part of the defense’s inconsistency was not being able to get on the field due to the rain storms in February. They practiced at Carl Conelly Stadium on a synthetic turf field, which made it a challenging transition for the players during a game.

“I think our defense has picked it up and our hitting has been there all year, that hasn’t been an issue,” Rosinger said. 

The Seahawks as a team are currently batting a .344 average, which is good for seventh in the state. They also have a solid pitching rotation with Mendez and Neu leading the way in the circle. 

Mendez has an 11-4 record in 17 games started, and a 2.34 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 119 2/3 innings pitched. Neu has a 7-3 record in 11 games started, and a 4.28 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched. 

Mendez put on a masterful performance against San Mateo, which is a team chock full of NCAA Division I caliber-type players. She didn’t record a strikeout, yet she managed to allow just one earned run on five hits and one walk. 

Rosinger, who took over the program in 2012, said junior college teams have always featured talented players who could compete at the D-I or II levels, as well as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). 

The longtime Seahawks coach said they’ve constantly had kickbacks return to Cabrillo due to a change of heart or having a better chance of showcasing their talents on the field.

“You’ll face better players here at community college,” Rosinger said. “Some better players, obviously not a whole roster, then you would see at a D-II or NAIA game. You get kind of a mixed bag here.”

Cabrillo is heading into the final stretch of the season with seven games remaining, including a Coast Conference and regular season-finale showdown at home against West Valley College on April 23 at 3pm.  

Llamas said it’s going to be a grind both physically and mentally, but she’s ready for what’s in store. 

“I think at this point of our season, we just want to rampage,” she said. “Our goal as a team this year, I believe, was to make the playoffs and we should be able to achieve that goal…I want to go to the playoffs and I want to win.”

Next up, Cabrillo (23-8, 8-3), will host Santa Barbara City College (15-12, 7-3) in a non-conference doubleheader on Friday at 10am and noon.

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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