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Bulldogs Softball: Hopeful For A Successful Season Led By This Year’s Seniors

By Hailey Maes

The Centennialight

Centennial softball has made strides the past four years, they have completely rebuilt their team and have become a tough, competitive team.

After this year's opening game, Bulldogs showed promise for a successful season. They defeated Liberty in the home opener 11-10 and then went on to beat Widefield 16-6.

This success is led by the four seniors on this year's team, Kaylee Portillos, Yzavel Barela, Alexis Gonzales, and Lilliana Espinoza.

These seniors have been four year varsity players and have played a key role in rebuilding this program. They each have had very impressive high school careers and outstanding accomplishments.

Each senior has stellar batting averages and above average fielding percentages, they are clear threats on both sides of the ball.

Barela was out with an injury her Junior season, she was sidelined and was a spectator all year.

“Tearing my ACL was a game changer,” Barela explained. “I was out for a year, but now I know I need to work even harder than everyone to get myself back to where I was, or hopefully better than I was.”

Despite her season ending injury, she currently has a .307 career batting average, and is the Bulldog’s star center fielder.

Portillos is a name to know in high school softball. She is a player who can play any position and excel. Not only does she have a .889 fielding percentage, she also has an impressive batting average of .625 with 39 RBI’s and 6 career home runs.

“It makes me happy knowing that I'm good enough to play at such a high level.” Portillos continued on to say, “I've improved a lot. I'm hitting the ball well and making good plays.”

Portillos is a vacuum of a short stop, and a leader on and off the field. Portillos was also in the running for the best softball player in Pueblo County High School Sports Awards.

Portillos and Barela have both earned the title of one of the top 20 softball players in Pueblo.

“I was shocked to see my name on that list, I only played one game all season last year,” Barela stated. Despite being out she still managed to make the list among a group of very talented athletes.

Gonzales and Espinoza have also had very impressive and successful high school careers.

Espinoza was the Bulldog’s starting pitcher for her first three years. In that time she earned a 4.58 ERA, with 312 innings pitched, and a total of 129 career strikeouts.

“My freshman season was very memorable.” Espinoza continued, “I made the starting pitcher spot, and I had a lot of good memories with my coaches and teammates.”

Espinoza is strong on both sides of the ball, along with a solid pitching record she also earned a .364 batting average and has a total of 47 RBI’s.

“Lily is a trooper,” Gonzalez said, “she's been through hell and back and is still here fighting with us to end our senior year on a good note.”

Gonzales is the Bulldog’s starting first baseman and is a strong bat in the lineup. She hits .375 and has an almost perfect, .915 fielding percentage.

Gonzales has given life to this program these past four years. “The thing I'm going to miss the most is the girls, we've become so close over these past four years. It's going to be truly hard to move on and start a life without my friends.”

All of these seniors are hopeful for a successful season and believe their team has what it takes to accomplish their goal.

“One thing this team has struggled with is keeping our energy up, just being positive,” Barela explained.

“But this year's team are very hard workers, I can see how much they put into it,” Barela said. “I believe in my girls, I know we can get the job done, we've done it before and we can do it again.”

The Bulldogs have been known to struggle in the league. But this team, led by these four seniors, have a very high chance of winning the league and even moving on to the postseason.

Seniors Kaylee Portillos and Lilliana Espinoza share a low-five between bats. Photo by Marissa Anaya

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