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Santa Maria's softball team narrowly missed qualifying the playoffs last year. A familiar area coach is back to coach the team as the Saints go after a 2018 postseason spot.

Greg Guerrero has coached at the high school softball level for decades, but he spent most of that time at St. Joseph. He was Santa Maria's first-year coach last year. He returns to coach the Saints this year.

Here is a look at the Saints and some other Santa Maria Valley high school softball teams.

Santa Maria

The Glidewell sisters, Xchelle and Ehsya, have been an integral part of the Santa Maria softball program for years, and the two are back again.

Ehsya is a senior infielder-pitcher-outfielder for the Saints, who are off to a 2-1 start this year after finishing 11-13, including 7-7 in the Los Padres League, in 2017.

Xchelle is a junior pitcher-infielder. Both Glidewells were among the Saints' more solid hitters last year.

Dejah Alcivar has been another pitcher in the Saints' rotation, and the senior returns. She is also an infielder. Exandra Madrigal, who was a regular last year, is another  senior returnee. Madrigal is listed on the Saints' roster as an outfielder.

Other Santa Maria varsity returnees include senior infielder Cynthia Cantu, junior outfielder Sarae Ramirez, junior infielder-outfielder Isabella Moore, sophomore infielder-outfielder Samantha De La Cruz and sophomore infielder Kandy Ramirez.

The Saints'  roster includes five seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.

St. Joseph

The Knights are off to a 2-1-1 start on the season under first-year head coach John Welch.

St. Joseph scored a 3-2 win over Lompoc on Thursday. The Knights lost to Templeton by 5-0 and started the year with a 5-5 tie against Santa Ynez.

In the win over Lompoc last week, Skylar Johnson fanned two Brave batters to put out a brewing Lompoc rally before the Knights would later rally right back with two runs in the seventh to prevail 3-2.

Welch said the Knights didn’t show any signs of panic in the St. Joseph dugout during that bottom-of-the-fifth scenario.

“We work on that daily,” Welch said. “What was going through my head was ‘Hey, let’s just play ball.’ It was a fantastic job and my pitcher did a fantastic job.”

The Knights won a tournament game 8-0 over Discovery Saturday.

Valley Christian Academy

The Lions went 8-5, including 6-2 in the Coast Valley League which was good for a runner-up finish, in 2017. They went out in the first round of the playoffs.

VCA has yet to play its 2018 season opener.

Dominique Navarette hit. 412 for VCA last year. Kyra Tullos batted .400. Navarette is a senior second baseman-shortstop-pitcher. Tullos is a left fielder-second baseman-third baseman. Both return for the 2018 season.

Other varsity returnees included junior shortstop-pitcher Mayle DeBernardi, junior second baseman-outfielder Malia Bullock, senior first baseman-right fielder Cierra Sallee, junior catcher-outfielder Shelbi Anderson and sophomore outfielder Heather Knutson.

Perla Paniagua, the ace of VCA's pitching staff as well as its leading hitter last year, graduated.

Pioneer Valley

The Panthers will try to make a drive for the playoffs under veteran coach Ernie Garcia after finishing 7-20, including 3-11 in the PAC 8 League, last year.

Junior Aneisia Dollinger hit .329 last year. She is one of four varsity returnees for the Panthers. The others are senior Vanessa Gomez, senior Vanessa Navarro and sophomore Breanna Galaties.

Pioneer Valley is off to a 1-3 start this year.

Orcutt Academy

Two of the Spartans' leading hitters last year are among Orcutt Academy's four returners. Junior shortstop-pitcher Daisy Esparza batted .418 in 2017, and center fielder-infielder Cielo Ruvalcaba, a team captain, hit .324 last year. The other returners are Maddi Van-Muysen-Barber, a senior second baseman-infielder and team captain, and junior first baseman Rachel Golden.

Shelby Mohler, a senior pitcher-infielder who signed earlier this month to play softball for NAIA MIssouri Valley College, played for the baseball team last year. She's back playing softball this year and is another team captain.

No information was available on Righetti, which starts its season March 20 against Arroyo Grande.

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Sports Reporter