The 2021 Fullerton College Hornets softball players are more excited than normal for their upcoming season.

The team is led by co-head coaches Crystal Aguirre, who is going into her fourth season, and Marian “Speedy” Mendoza who is going into her 11th as head coach and 22nd as part of the Fullerton Hornet program. Both were named 2019 co-Orange Empire Conference coaches of the year and 2019 State Coaches of the year.

After an outstanding 2019 season that saw the team go 33 and 6 in the regular season, the Hornets had high hopes for winning the OEC in 2020. After a promising start and going 12-6, the season was canceled due to COVID-19.

A little over a year later, the softball team is back on campus practicing and preparing to win the conference and ultimately a state title.

Jessica Lopez looks to continue her success and looks to dominate on the mound this season

Jessica Lopez looks to continue her success and looks to dominate on the mound this season Photo credit: Bovie Lavong

The team is ready to compete, led by Ace pitcher Jessica Lopez who is repeating her sophomore season due to COVID-19.

Lopez was selected to be on the First Team All-OEC after her dominating 2019 season where she led Fullerton in wins and had the lowest earned run average.

Jessica Lopez draws her inspiration from watching professional athletes and trying to replicate their work ethic. She also looks to honor the memory of her pitching coach who passed away and says a prayer for herself, her teammates and the opposing team before every game.

Lopez has electric stuff from the mound and while she is normally the main starter, she has been known to come in to close out games as well showing her versatility.

Jessica Lopez gets into her windup before striking out another batter against Mt. Sac

Jessica Lopez gets into her windup before striking out another batter against Mt. Sac Photo credit: Blare Parke

Along with Jessica Lopez, returning sophomore center fielder Clarissa Hernandez is excited to be back on the field and bonding with her team.

Hernandez remarked that while the coaches did a great job keeping the team together through zoom meetings during the pandemic, the online meetings just couldn’t replace being with the team in person.

Now the team is back together and ready to finish what they started in 2020.

Adding to the impressive group of returning sophomores is a talented freshman class.

Freshmen including outfielder Madison Ferguson, infielder Luisa Velasquez and first baseman Taylor McCall look to add speed, power and athleticism to an already talented group.

Freshman first baseman Luisa Velasquez gets ready to knock in her teammate from first base.

Freshman first baseman Luisa Velasquez gets ready to knock in her teammate from first base. Photo credit: Blare Parke

“We are looking forward to Taylor bringing in some athleticism, strength and knowledge both on the field and in the classroom, Coach Mendoza said of McCall.

On Thursday, April 8, The Hornets held a double-header scrimmage against Mt. SAC, their first scrimmage of the season.

Fullerton won both 4 to 0 and 9 to 2. Jessica Lopez’s pitching dominance was once again on display as she routinely made her opponents look silly at the plate.

Freshman outfielder Madison Ferguson batting leadoff for the Hornets during a scrimmage against Mt. Sac

Freshman outfielder Madison Ferguson batting leadoff for the Hornets during a scrimmage against Mt. Sac Photo credit: Blare Parke

The 2021 Hornet softball team is hungry and talented. With a loaded pitching staff full of veterans, plenty of speed on the bases and power at the plate with an infusion of freshman talent, the sky is the limit for this team.

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Blare Parke (He/Him) is a journalism major from Encinitas, CA. His hobbies include playing golf and cooking.