Casa primed for big season, if there is a season

The Casa Grande High School softball team entered the 2020 softball season with high hopes. After four games, the Gauchos still have those hopes. What they may not have is a season to fulfill those hopes.

With all spring sports shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Casa optimism may not be misplaced, but irrelevant. Casa Grande coach Scott Sievers is trying hard to be upbeat. “I want to be optimistic,” he said. “I’ll stay hopeful we can have some kind of season until the CIF says, ‘That’s it.’?”

If there is any semblance of a season, Casa Grande figures to be in the middle of any battle for a title.

The on-diamond optimism is based on a mixture of solid senior leadership mixed with very talented newcomers.

That, along with one of the best one-two pitching punch-out artists in the North Bay. Katie Humphreys and Katie Machado are seniors, and both have already committed to continue pitching in college.

Humphreys struck out 71 batters in 60? innings, walking just 17. Machado fanned 77 in 72 innings, walking just 38.

They are even better this year, not only pitching, but also hitting and providing leadership to the younger players. Both are among the team’s best hitters and will hit in the middle of the order.

Coming up behind the seniors is sophomore Jordan Baughn, who will be asked to take the main role in the circle next season.

Behind the plate is Skylar Thorpe, who is not only an excellent receiver but is also one of the fastest players in the program.

One of the bevy of the outstanding Gaucho young players is freshman catcher Maddie Fannin, who caught one of Casa Grande’s four games before everything shut down.

The Casa Grande infield is anchored by an outstanding defensive combo in second baseman Emma Hughes at second base and freshman Jamie McGaughey at shortstop.

“Jamie has great hands and a great arm,” said Sievers. “She has already made some great plays.” She has already hit a home run in a win over Cardinal Newman and another against Montgomery that was ruled foul.

Junior Ashley Casper, a standout on the Casa Grande championship basketball team, will also get playing time at second base.

Emily Hart returns for a third straight season at first base. She hit .500 in Casa Grande’s first four games.

Humphreys is at third base when she isn’t pitching. She hit .340 last season. When she is on the mound, Ava Lutz will play third base.

The Casa Grande outfield is anchored by senior center fielder Regan Laubscher, one of the best outer defenders in the North Bay. She is also a much improved hitter who bats in the middle of the Casa order.

Sophomore Macy Shern, who came up toward the end of last season, is the starting left fielder.

Machado and Casper will share time in right field, with Machado bringing a big bat and Casper hustle and excellent defense. Casper is also an outstanding bunter.

Sophomore Kiley Carlomagno can play anywhere from shortstop to the outfield and will be looking for playing time.

That is if there is playing time for anyone.

“Hopefully there will be some kind of season for us,” said Sievers.

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