Mt SAC Women’s Softball got off to an incredible 18-0 start to their season. The team is led by coach Rubilena Rojas, who is in her fifth season in charge of the softball team. She has made sure that the recent winning streak did not distract her players or derail their long term goals.
“Our biggest goal, obviously, is to go all the way,” Rojas said. “That’s our biggest goal. Not to be undefeated. Not to have these amazing records. That will come if we take care of the little things.”
Coach Rojas said she wants her team to focus on building day-to-day habits, not to bask in their own success.
“Our slogan for the year is to ‘Win the moment.’ So we don’t look ahead, we don’t look behind, we just stay present and that’s our biggest thing,” she said.
The team lost their first game of the season at Allan Hancock by nine runs. Normally, you would take a loss as a negative. Coach Rojas said she sees the team’s first loss in 18 games as a positive.
“The loss is a good learning lesson and I believe that if we don’t lose, we don’t really learn lessons out of it,” Rojas said. “We just wanted to go ahead and get back on track. That was the main goal.”
If it’s possible for a defeat to come with a silver lining, the coaching staff now has the opportunity and justification to constructively criticize players who may have started to slip into bad habits while the team overall was succeeding.
“When you’ve had 20 wins in a row it’s very easy to get complacent,” Rojas said. “So that loss was something that really humbled us, that we always have to bring out our ‘A’ game because every single team is playing theirs.”
Rojas has a theory on how the team has been able to play so well this season.
“A big reason for the team’s success is the chemistry among the players during this season. They understand each other and get along. That’s huge,” she said. “Besides having talent, teams always need to have team chemistry.”
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have some talented players on the roster, and this team has plenty. Rojas was quick to point out sophomores Tiffany Kennedy-Cummings, Racqual Espinoza and Kayla Sok as a few of the team’s stand-out players.
Kennedy-Cummings leads the team’s pitching staff with a 0.91 ERA and six complete games while Espinoza holds a 9-1 record. Sok leads the team’s hitters in runs (32) and stolen bases (20).
The team has played more than half of their season up to this point, still needing to finish March and all of April before the playoffs start. After the great record to begin the season, one might expect goals to be sky high, but Rojas does her best to not get wrapped up in what lies ahead.
“I take it day by day, that’s it,” Rojas said. “My goal as a coach is to be better than yesterday. I love to live in the moment.”
“Granted, we have our biggest goal which is obviously to make it all the way and that’s obviously a lot of people’s goals, but you can’t think too much ahead and you just have to live in the present,” she added.
Rojas has a method to keeping her team, who plays their next game Tuesday, March 20 at East Los Angeles College and their next home game Thursday, March 30 against Rio Hondo, focused on the task at hand.
“Whoever we have in front of us, that’s our biggest game of the year,” she said. “We treat it just like that every single game.”