Of all the sports at Santa Monica High, softball ranks with the most successful. Debbie Skaggs has been the coach for 22 years, built a winning, well-respected program, and spent countless hours making a state-of-the-art on-campus stadium even better
But the upcoming season will likely be the last one on that field. In Phase One of the rebuilding of the Samohi campus in conjunction with the City of Santa Monica the softball complex is scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a Science and Technology building.
Long-range plans include the creation of a new softball field. But until then, instead of playing on campus, Samohi softball teams will have to scramble to find sites for home games.
“I’m not bitter,” Skaggs insists. But there’s no denying this will be a setback for her program.
Typically, Skaggs schedules tough opponents in non-league games to prepare her team for strong playoff competition. Then the Vikings romp through the weak Ocean League, in one season going through the entire schedule without giving up a run.
Often there are a few rounds of playoff success although there hasn’t been a CIF championship.
Students come out of their classrooms for 3:15 p.m. home games and fill the stadium, their noisy presence creating a major home field advantage.
If this is to be the last season in the softball complex it figures to be a memorable one. Four seniors have already signed letters of intent to continue their careers in college.
Pitcher Celisha Walker signed with New Mexico State, catcher Emma Woo with Tennessee Tech, shortstop Kaile Nakao with Hawaii and outfielder Hayley Condon with San Jose State.
And there’s plenty of younger talent on the roster too.
Skaggs is the mother of Tyler Skaggs, the Samohi pitcher who became the 40th player selected in the major league baseball draft and is now in the Angels’ farm system.
In the last two seasons Debbie Skaggs would be coaching her softball team and receive text messages from friends watching the Vikings’ baseball game
One afternoon when games were being played on adjoining fields at Culver City High Debbie Skaggs completed her team’s victory, then rushed to the baseball field in time to see the last two innings of Tyler’s 1-0 shutout win highlighted by 14 strikeouts and no walks.
She has spent Saturdays with her husband working on the pitching mound on Samohi’s baseball field, a mom giving her son every chance to succeed.
It seems a shame Samohi couldn’t have found a different place for its new Science and Technology building. And it will be a shame if the state-of-the-art softball program can’t remain at its present level.