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Glendale Community College softball carries on into 2014

Pizzo takes over in dugout as Lady Vaqueros move on following 'Hawk' Wilder's passing.

January 25, 2014|By Gabriel Rizk
  • Glendale College softball shortstop Jocelyn Davila fields the ball cleanly during practice at the Glendale Sports Complex in Glendale on Tuesday, January 21, 2014.
Glendale College softball shortstop Jocelyn Davila… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

With 10 new freshmen on the roster, the 2014 Glendale Community College softball team will look dramatically different when it steps between the lines for the first game of the season.

But the most notable absence this season will be felt in the dugout.

The Vaqueros’ season opener against Cerritos at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Glendale Sports Complex will be the first time in 13 years that the team takes the field without longtime head coach Dave “Hawk” Wilder.

“He will always be remembered and we make sure his legacy does live on through what we do,” Glendale sophomore pitcher Cassandra Soto said of Wilder, who passed away on June 2 of natural causes at age 70. “It’s a new program now that he’s not here. We don’t want to forget what he’s done, but we just have to keep going.”

From the renaming of the Vaqueros’ annual tournament in his honor to the patches the players will wear on the uniforms throughout the season in tribute, reminders of Wilder, who coached the team since 2000, will be everywhere.

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“He will be in the forefront and the back of our minds all the time,” said Vaqueros Coach Sal Pizzo, who served as an assistant under Wilder for the past six seasons.

Glendale finished 17-21, 7-11 in its division of the Western State Conference last season, but is just two years removed from a 30-15 season that included the first postseason appearance since 2002 and the first California Community College Athletic Assn. Southern California Super Regionals berth in the program’s history.

As a redshirt sophomore, Soto is the last on-field link to that team and she feels like this year’s squad has the potential to be just as successful.

“Regionals is a big thing,” Soto said. “I keep telling the girls it’s fun to compete, but you want to go as far as you can. It’s fun once you reach regionals. I’ve been there and we did it as a team and I want to do that this year.”

Soto was primarily a first baseman in her last season with GCC, but this time around will be asked to split pitching duties with freshman Myrna Gonzalez due to a season-ending hand injury to the team’s projected No. 1 starter, sophomore Katie Bakhshian. Bakhshian is one of two returning starters who will redshirt this season, as second baseman Amanda Zepeda will also miss the season due to illness.

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