Softball Season Ends for Pioneers

Amanda Zepeda

Team improves from last year, closing out with a 24-27 record

The CSU East Bay softball team wrapped up their season over the weekend with a series against the number one team in the conference, UC San Diego.

Despite dropping three of a four game series, the Pioneers ended their season on a high note mercy–ruling San Diego, 11-3, in the first game of a doubleheader and game three of the series on Saturday.

Being the last home stand of the season, four seniors were honored before the game.

Nikki Freiberg, Kassandra Winger, Catherine Schorn and Dani Foster were out on the field for one last time as both Freiberg and Winger hit home runs, while the four combined to drive in seven runs on the final day of the season.

After a stellar final week, batting .583, Winger was named Worth/CCAA Player of The Week.

The Pioneers ended their season with a 24-27 overall record and a 14-22 record in conference play, a significant improvement from the 2010 campaign.

A key component for the success of the Pioneers this season was senior Nikki Freiberg.

“We had a really good year,” said Freiberg.  “We finished with a good record considering we’re a new team.”

“The highlight of the season for me was beating San Diego. That was probably one of the best games we’ve ever had.”

The center fielder from Danville received CCAA Academic Honors, was nominated Athlete of the Year and received the Sluggers Award in 2010.

She currently is a scholar athlete, with a 3.7 overall GPA and receives Dean’s List recognition most quarters.

In her fourth and final season with the Pioneers, Freiberg has proven her skill assets both on the field and in the classroom and now it is time for Freiberg to carry her talents unto another stage in her life.

The slugger will be joining the military after graduation and will be leaving for boot camp on January 3.

She credits a lot of her reasoning for joining the military to her teammates.

“I wanted to join the military since I was in high school,” said Freiberg. “I’m just very motivated and I want to do good things for my country and the people that I am surrounded by and protect the people that I live around.”

“Meeting all these girls at the East Bay softball team just pushed me even more because it’s the concept of a family and protecting that family. This team is my family no matter if I’m on the team or off the team. Going into the military is a way to protect them, even when I’m not there.”

The respect and admiration that Freiberg has for her teammates is mutual.

“Nikki is one of the most motivated people that I have ever met,” said teammate Kelly Lowe.

“Her drive is one of the most intense that I have ever seen as a person, as a friend and as a teammate. She always has your back and if she says she’s going to do something, she does it with all her effort.”

As Freiberg departs, she leaves behind a team that has grown and that will continue to grow with Lowe who will carry on the success.

Lowe is a starting pitcher for the Pioneers who red-shirted with the team last year as a freshmen.

In this her first year playing with the team, she led all Pioneer pitchers with 10 wins, a 2.95 ERA and 92 strikeouts.

While at Mountain View High School in Vancouver, Wash., she was captain of the softball team and helped them win three district championships along with an undefeated 2009 season.

In just the beginnings of her collegiate career as a starting pitcher, Lowe understands the responsibility that she has on this team.

“One of the things about being a pitcher is that the energy that you bring to the mound is really contagious to the rest of the team,” said Lowe.

“If your defense is good, then your offense is good and if your offense is good then your defense is good. It’s a vicious circle. So, as a pitcher, you try your best to bring positive energy.”

Lowe showcased that positive energy in game two against San Diego as she tossed a two-hitter in a nine-inning complete game loss in a low scoring affair.

Lowe said the highlight of the 2011 campaign was the series against CSU Monterey Bay in February where the Pioneers swept the Otters in a four game series.

“It was a great season,” said Lowe.

“I’m proud of what we built and how it ended”.

The power-pitcher, who has been playing softball since kindergarten, attributes her success in softball to the passion that she has for the sport.

“People who competitively play softball know that softball is your life,” she says.

“We live, breathe and eat it. It’s all encompassing. We love the game and that’s what drives us.”

Lowe, along with the rest of the 15 returning players on the Pioneers, seeks to carry over the energy from this year into next season.

“I’m really excited for the future,” she said.

“We’ve grown so much from last year and I think we’re going to grow even more next year.”