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Clip: Comets conference championship hopes falls on freshmen shoulders

04/03/2010

Complete article appeared in The Telescope (Jan. 19, 2010)

Every morning during the month of January, the sound of aluminum bats being smacked against a softball and feet beating the base paths with rapid succession can be heard on the Palomar College campus.

That can only mean one thing: the Palomar Comets team is preparing to defend its Pacific Coast Conference championship title.
“Softball continues to workout year round,” Palomar Head Coach Mark Eldridge said.
This year, the players’ workout included going to play powerhouse four-year college programs such as Arizona State, UCLA and Long Beach State in the fall.

“We were trying to get everybody to know everybody and build some team chemistry,” Eldridge said. “Playing those teams is great for us to see where we are at this point.”
Chemistry is important when you consider the Comets will enter the 2010 season without a number of starters from last year’s team.

The most notable missing players being Alex Hutchinson, first team all state and pitcher of the year in the PCC; and Shawna Barrow and Andi Anti, both second team all state.

“Those were three great leaders that are hard to replace but it is an opportunity for the new kids to step in and it’s their time now,” Eldridge said.

Players come and players go but the one constant in the Palomar program has been the coaching duo Eldridge and Assistant Coach Lacey Craft.

The dean of coaches in the conference, Eldridge is credited with over 1,000 wins and three state championships, spanning over 30 seasons as Palomar’s coach.

“Lacey is a young up-and-coming coach who is very professional, and I have been at it for more than two decades,” Eldridge said.

The biggest challenge for them as coaches right now, he said, is getting the players to bring their “A” effort everyday.
“But they’re starting to get accustomed to that,” Eldridge said.

Theresa Houle returns this year after missing out on last season when she suffered a knee injury.

“Theresa is a natural leader and we’re really expecting a lot of great things from her,” Eldridge said. “She has the credibility to go out there and carry the load so she is an obvious choice to lead us.”
She will start the season at first base instead of her normal catcher position. This will not be an unfamiliar move for Houle.

“I started out playing first base when I got here so this is nothing new to me,” Houle said.

The biggest hurdle the Comets have is non conference schedule. Every year in conference, Grossmont is the only team that can compete with the Comets. This translates to early-round exits in the state playoffs.
“We do schedule some games against Cypress, Mt. SAC, Fullerton and other good programs,” Eldridge said.

“It doesn’t help us to have that weekly competition. It hurts us at the end. We have had some postseason success but it’s a challenge because we don’t have three teams we are trying to beat out in the end.”

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2 Comments
  1. If only more people would read about this!

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