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She's Merced College's ultimate team player

No one can accuse Kaylee Gibson of not contributing to the Merced College softball cause.

The versatile sophomore has battled through an ankle injury all season, and is now starting to feel some pain in her shoulder because of recent catching duties.

MC coach Steve Cassady was forced to move the right fielder behind the plate when starter Amber Vineyard developed a weird inability to throw the ball back to her pitchers.

Gibson's done an excellent job filling in, but it's taken a physical toll.

"I did some catching in high school, so it wasn't that tough a transition," Gibson said. "But I throw the ball over the top in the outfield and kind of from the side when I'm catching, so my shoulder's been hurting a little bit."

Making the Most of a Trip

The Merced College baseball team exchanged home games with Reedley College when the Tigers' home field was too wet to host a Central Valley Conference game at the end of February.

With the March 13 contest now set to take place in Reedley, the Blue Devils won't play at home again for 26 days.

Seeing an opportunity, MC coach Chris Pedretti got the OK from Cassady (also MC's athletic director) to refurbish the school's backstop.

"We're tearing down the chain link and putting up a net," Pedretti said. "It's something we wanted to do before the season started.

"With us being on the road for so long, we figured we should go ahead with it."

Pedretti said the net -- similar to MC's softball facility -- will extend out towards the dugouts as you see in many professional ballparks.

The netting will also cover the two pieces of fencing down each baseline that previously left spectators unprotected.

The project should finish up a little over a week before the Blue Devils are set to host Fresno City College on March 27.

Transition Game

Following his women's basketball team's loss in the NorCal playoffs, MC softball assistant coach Allen Huddleston made his first appearance at practice on Wednesday.

"The baseball players were kidding me, 'What, once the sun comes out you can go outside,' " Huddleston said.

Family BBQ

The MC baseball team was treated to quite a feast after practice on Wednesday.

The spread included fresh fruit, potato salad and plenty of hamburgers and hot dogs.

"My wife decided she wanted to barbecue for the guys today," Pedretti said. "She's a good team mom.

"It's all part of our family atmosphere."

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at slynch@mercedsun-star.com.

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