DVC Softball Preview: Ready to Roll

The Vikings will look to keep the good times rolling after a landmark 2015 season in which they advanced to the Super Regionals after hosting a Regional playoff for the first time. 
Despite the loss of All-American shortstop Ashley Allen, now a sophomore infielder at Cal State East Bay, the Vikings have a nice mix of players and a strong coaching staff.  
Sophomore pitcher Nicole Nordahl, a first-team All-Big 8 Conference and All-NorCal pitcher last season, frustrates hitters with a good curveball and an improving changeup. 
"She throws the ball pretty decent, and hard," second-year DVC head coach Dennis Luquet says of the Albany High graduate. "She keeps the ball away from most hitters, and it's hard to make really good contact off her." 
The Vikings, who open the new season at home against Ohlone on Tuesday, finished 32-11 last year -- 21-win improvement over the previous year. DVC swept Reedley in the regional playoffsand beat West Valley in the Super Regionals at College of San Mateo, before falling to Delta. 
On offense, the squad boasts a pair of Pinole Valley graduates in slugging first baseman Cynthia Duenas, who was first-team all-Big 8 last season, and third baseman Bailey Simmons, who batted .285 in 2015 
In addition to Allen, the Vikings have to replace outstanding second baseman Amer Golini, but the cupboard is far from bare. Duenas was ranked fourth in the state in home runs for much of last season, winding up ninth with 11 homers and a .381 batting average. 
"She's a big power hitter," Luquet said of Duenas. "She had one error on defense -- dropped a foul on a popped bunt -- so she's a good defensive player too." 
Newcomers looking good are shortstop Reyna Sherbourne (Deer Valley), outfielder Mallary Barnard (Benicia), and leadoff slap-hitter/outfielder Kaitlyn Van Motman (Concord), who will probably be the second pitcher. 
"I think we can be just as successful as last year," Luquet said. "Pitching is the name of the game, pitching and defense, so it should be a good year." 
Luquet gives much of the credit for the program's meteoric rise to recruiting and to highly regarded assistant coach John Rebstock. 
"This guy's a phenomenal softball coach," Luquet said of Rebstock, formerly a pitching coach at Saint Mary's College after an illustrious coaching career in high school. "When I got hired, I went over and got him. It's been nice having him here because he's been doing softball for 50-some years." 
Luquet's daughter, Caitlin, who coached Division III softball in Boston, has returned to bolster the coaching staff. 
"She's been a big help also," her dad said.