Rocklin — The road to the California Community Colleges Athletic Association softball state championships in Bakersfield may not be the relatively smooth super-highway it was in 2012, but it still goes through Sierra College.
The seventh-seeded Wolverines (27-10-1) host No. 10 Monterey Peninsula College (27-12) Saturday and Sunday at the Wolverine Softball Complex in the opening round of the CCCAA NorCal playoffs. The winner of the best-of-three series advances to the Super Regional round May 10-12, when two teams from both the north and south will qualify for the state championship tournament in Bakersfield May 17-19.
Last year, coach Darci Brownell’s Sierra squad reached the title tourney with a power-laden lineup and an epic comeback in the College of San Mateo Super Regional. The 2012 Wolverines blasted a record 79 home runs and led the state in virtually every offensive category. While the 2013 Wolverines aren’t quite as dynamic, they’re still potent at the plate and have a superior defense.
Sierra is led by two-time All-State center fielder Jenna Mae Thorne. A 2012 All-American, Thorne was named the 2013 Big 8 Player of the Year after batting .443 with 54 hits, eight triples, 11 stolen bases and a .730 slugging percentage, all team highs. She also had 10 doubles, three homers and 38 RBIs. Shortstop Taylor McGregor capped her second All-NorCal, All-Big 8 campaign with a .440 batting average, six homers, 51 hits, a .716 slugging percentage, 14 doubles and a team-leading 42 RBIs.
The All-Big 8 first team featured a league-high six Wolverines. Joining Thorne and McGregor were sophomore Jessica Snow (third base), freshman Alexis Johnson (outfield), Tayana Mata (utility) and Bear River alumna Maddie Phelps (pitcher).
Freshman infielder Gabby Gonzalez was an honorable mention selection. Brownell earned her second consecutive Big 8 Coach of the Year award.
The Wolverines, who finished second in the Big 8 with a 17-4 mark, topped the conference in runs (319), hits (404), RBIs (279), doubles (76) and triples (20) and were second in at bats (1093), homers (36), team batting average (.370) and slugging percentage (.575).
Monterey Peninsula College finished fourth in the Coast-South, a conference that sent five teams to the playoffs. All-state selection and two-time Coast South Player of the Year Megan Scherer paced the Lobos with a .435 batting average, 50 hits, 50 RBIs, 14 doubles and a .643 slugging percentage. Monterey Peninsula College is coached by Amy Servi, now in her fifth year at the Lobo helm.