- West Park: New Education | School To Debut Amid Strange Times
- Anson Aroz: The Constant | Meet Placer Baseball’s Problem Solver
- Little League: Caught In A Pickle | East Bay Chapters Ride COVID Wave
- Fall Sports’ Alternate Reality: An Imagined Sports Future
- SportStars’ Softball Big 10 | NorCal’s Best Players (’11-’20)
- Lindsey Berg Volleyball Tips for Setters
- SportStars’ Overall Boys Athlete Big 10 | NorCal’s Best Male Athletes (’11-’20)
- SportStars’ Overall Girls Athlete Big 10 | NorCal’s Best Female Athletes (’11-’20)
- 2020 AWN’s High School All-American Team
- Mark Tennis: CIF, Sections, Districts Face Tough Decisions In Turbulent Times
- 10 Years Of SportStars’ Staff Memories & Favorites
- MLB Draft 2020: Seven NorCal Natives Selected, Two Stay In Bay
- Nick Yorke, Boston Red Sox 1st Round Pick | SportStar Of The Week
- Kerry McCoy Takes Over California RTC
- Frank Cheek, Legendary Humboldt State Coach Passes
Masterful Communication Aids Elk Grove High Softball
- Updated: May 10, 2018
21st Century Clout
Coach Amanda Buck operates her Elk Grove High softball team like a finely-crafted marketing plan.
The team mission adjusts pitch-by-pitch to the calls of assistant coach Jake Lively, corresponding with color-coded commands on each player’s arm band.
Play is often stalled to discuss strategies with coaches, and players who finish an at-bat will often share pitching analytics with the next batter.
The campaign even has its own hashtag.
“We call it #18strong,” Buck said. “All of us are working together, players and coaches, to achieve our goals.
“If we can trust each other, we can respect one another. If we want good things to happen for each other, then they will. We have had a successful season with that motto.”At
The targeted efforts are bolstered by masterful communication, in the field, at the plate, and in a stentorian dugout so loud, each pitch becomes a spectacle.
At home momentum.
At home, the Elk Grove High softball momentum builds when each player’s carefully-selected walkup music begins. Junior slugger Angelica Cano strides to the plate to the tune of “Lean Like A Cholo.” As she gets her elbows up and leans side to side, the clamor of raucous jeers and cheers from her dugout thunder toward the field of play.
Some girls will shout words of encouragement, a few will bellow war cries, and many will speak in a sort of never-ending cheer-language that never reaches discernible speech.
“Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!” a few girls holler, a la the “Finding Nemo” seagulls.
It doesn’t really matter what is said. The tone and volume build toward a crescendo at the fastpitch follow-through.
Each at-bat is a symphony, and base knocks earn standing ovations.
Buck and Co. directed nearly 200 of those through the first 19 games (combined .383 batting average). Elk Grove won 12 of its first 15 and knocked off section power and Delta League rival Sheldon-Sacramento on April 20.
The Herd shellacked 7-0 Modesto Metro Conference leader Gregori-Modesto, blew out 7-0 Trans Valley League power Escalon, and has outscored foes at a 3-1 ratio.
#4 in Rankings
Elk Grove has been as high as No. 4 in the SportStars NorCal Softball Top 20 Rankings.
“They have fun, and they work hard, too,” Buck said. “This is one of the hardest working teams I have had in 13 years.
“They can make us laugh! They are all about getting the job done and putting in the extra work. It’s what makes us want to come to practice.”
The squad will send at least six girls to compete at the next level.
Cano, hitting .500 with 27 hits, 25 RBIs, seven doubles and two home runs as of April 24, will play at Idaho State in 2019-20.
She said the team’s competitiveness is its biggest strength.
“We just want to fight and win and get a (section championship) ring,” Cano said. “We are all coming together as a team.”
Sophomore ace Ava Hand (83 innings, 1.94 ERA, 105 strikeouts, zero home runs or triples allowed) and speedy junior leadoff Ariyana Miranda (.459 average, 30 runs, 28 hits, nine doubles, three home runs) have signed with UC Santa Barbara.
No. 4 hitter Nina Revoir, a senior batting .530 with 26 hits, 15 RBIs, six doubles and two triples, is bound for San Francisco State.
Senior Alexandria Hale (.429, 15 hits, 12 RBIs, two home runs, two triples) will compete for Santa Clara. Freshman Brooklynn Pettis (.347, 17 hits, 20 RBIs, three home runs, grand slam) committed to Boise State.
The stars shine in Buck’s system, and quickly learned to navigate the play calls that adjust their defensive positioning, pitch calls and hitting strategies before every rotation at the mound.
It makes the whole team look like NFL quarterbacks for a brief moment each play; the messaging is efficient.
“The arm bands make it less likely for any chance of a miscommunication,” Buck explained. “These are smart ball players who have been playing their whole lives, and they know how to adjust.”
Elk Grove High Softball will likely qualify for the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season this spring.
The squad dropped contests against Sheldon and Davis April 19 and 24, but closes the regular season with five foes the team has already defeated.
A potential 12-2 league record and top-two seed from the league should give the Herd a favorable seed in the Division 2 bracket.
Elk Grove High softball won a Div. I section title in 2010, was runner-up to Benicia (Div. II) in 2015 and runner-up to Sheldon (Div. I) in 2007, 2008 and 2011. Sheldon also utilizes arm-band play calls and a boisterous dugout.
It’s become the way to navigate through the Delta League, where players should earn college credit for their mastery of communications.