The Miami Dade College women’s softball team is ready to defend their national title.
There is buzz that the Lady Sharks, who defeated Wallace State Community College in the National Junior College Athletic Association National championship game last May, can repeat.
Matching the accomplishments of last year’s team will be a difficult task. The Lady Sharks finished with a 51-7 record.
Head Coach Carlos Caro said his team is ready for the challenge.
“The key to success is really simple, care about each other, keep it simple, hard work, be supportive and positive,” Caro said. “We teach our athletes to work one percent harder everyday so at the end of each month they’re 30 percent better.”
The team has lost some of its cogs from last year’s squad. Some of those players include pitcher Erika Bennett and infielder Amanda Lara, both who are now at Marshall University, catcher Vivian Morimoto and pitcher Geovanny Nunez.
Infielder Rebecca Hall is attending California State University, Fresno and infielder/outfielder Nicole Rodriguez has moved on to Lee University.
Despite the losses, the team has a solid nucleus returning. Among that group: infielder Kristen Exposito, outfielder Veronika Fukunishi, center fielder Stephanie Buendia and infielder Noemi Rodriguez.
“Last year we reached perfection,” Buendia said. “This time we have a lot of talent, but we need to work really hard to gain chemistry, mesh together and push each other to work harder.”
Caro said the team has added two former players to its coaching staff —Simone Miyahira and Simone Suetsugu— to help with the defensive and hitting part of the game.
Incoming freshman pitcher Rachel Meagley, 18, who was recruited from Spokane, Wa., will attempt to fill the shoe’s of last year’s ace, Bennett, who was 26-2.
Meagley said she is excited to be part of the team.
“I’ve worked hard in practice, running and working out to get ready for college softball,” Meagley said. “We are just looking on becoming a family, which will help us succeed.”
Last season, batting and power hitting were a main factor in the team’s success, with Exposito pro- viding 19 home runs.
This year’s team is expected to rely on base running and defense.
Caro is confident his team is up to the challenge.
“I always believe we can win,” Caro said. “I always have faith.”