Ken Kenobbie has a talented, fun-loving softball team at Casa Roble.
The first-year coach just wishes he could enjoy the exploits of the No. 6 Rams a little more.
Kenobbie, Casa's junior varsity coach last season before stepping up to varsity assistant this season, suddenly was thrust into the top job when coach Kristen Allen resigned to relocate to the Bay Area.
Allen's Rams won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title in 2010, then moved up to win the D-II section banner in 2011.
"It's a lot of pressure," Kenobbie said. "All the parents are looking for a third in a row. The players are staying loose, and they're trying to teach me to stay loose. I tend to get a little tense."
The players didn't give their coach much chance to relax during their past two Capital Valley Conference games.
The Rams needed Ali Aguilar's walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh to beat current No. 7 Del Campo 10-9 on April 10 after the Cougars had scored six times in the top of the seventh to tie the score.
Then on Monday, Casa Roble held off unranked Bella Vista 1-0 behind Kaitlyn Garcia's one-hitter and her run-scoring triple in the fourth inning.
"Our league is really competitive, and if we are fortunate to make the playoffs, Division II is loaded with good teams," Kenobbie said.
Casa Roble has the talent and experience to make a run at a section three-peat.
Aguilar, a junior shortstop, and Krystal Aubert (.526, 18 RBIs), a sophomore third baseman, already have verbally committed to Washington after being selected as conference Players of the Year, respectively, their freshman seasons.
Senior second baseman Kasie Trezona is a four-year starter; senior center fielder Aleena Willard leads the outfield; and Kenobbie's daughter, McKenzie, has been steady at catcher.
But the key is Garcia (10-3, 2.78 ERA), a junior and the Rams' only listed pitcher. She has pitched every inning for Casa Roble for the past two seasons. She's been challenged giving up 16 hits against Del Campo and dominating stifling Bella Vista.
"Kaitlyn is a workhorse who is mentally tough," Kenobbie said. "Nothing fazes her."
Kenobbie expects the same approach for the Rams in league because Del Campo, Bella Vista, Christian Brothers, Rio Linda and Oakmont all have competitive teams.
Still, Casa Roble remains the favorite to win a fourth consecutive league title.
"This is such a good group," Kenobbie said. "Kristen really built a good program, so we're just trying to go with the flow."
SFL showdow Top-ranked Woodcreek plays Thursday at No. 3 Del Oro, in the first of three meetings between the Sierra Foothill League powers.
A game last Wednesday between the two teams was stopped by rain with Del Oro leading 5-2 in the bottom of the third. The game was officially wiped out and rescheduled for April 27 at Mahany Park in Roseville.
Del Oro's Jordan Courage tossed a six-inning no-hitter in beating Pitman of Turlock 1-0 in Saturday's rain-shortened NorCal Classic in Tracy.
Pioneer's mixed results Pioneer handed Oakdale its first loss of the season 4-3 Saturday in the NorCal behind Brittanie Akey's five-hitter and Tori Bellin's triple and two RBIs.
The win came four days after Pioneer suffered a 6-5 upset loss to Inderkum, snapping the Patriots' 23-game Tri-County Conference winning streak.
Pioneer will try to regain a tie with crosstown rival Woodland for the league lead today. The No. 12 Patriots host No. 20 Woodland, which leads the conference with a 4-0 record.
THE BEE'S TOP 20
Records through Monday; PR previous ranking
|3. Del Oro||10-3-2||3|
|4. St. Francis||10-7||4|
|6. Casa Roble||10-3||6|
|7. Del Campo||9-4-1||7|
|8. Pleasant Grove||11-8-1||9|
|10. Cosumnes Oaks||10-5-1||10|
|11. Elk Grove||8-3-1||11|
|15. Bear River||7-4-2||15|
|19. Vista del Lago||9-4||17|