By Neil Morgan, CBU Sports Information Intern
RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- California Baptist University softball has as many aces as a deck of cards.
Mowatt and Thomas are in their first year as assistant coaches at CBU, and Ferreira and Holden are in their fourth year as starting pitchers.
The group has combined for four national championships, four national pitcher of the year awards, five All-American honors, two ESPY awards, more than 3,000 strikeouts and more than 330 wins.
However, the connection between these four goes much deeper than statistics.
Take for instance Holden, who since high school has admired Mowatt and her accomplishments while she was pitching for Arizona.
"When I was in high school Taryne was in college and I watched every single game she pitched. I was her biggest fan," said Holden. "I wanted to be just like her, and when coach [Bill Baber] told me that he was going to hire her I absolutely freaked out and screamed, because I've looked up to her for so long."
Mowatt pitched for the Wildcats from 2005-08 and earned numerous accolades on her way to becoming a two-time national champion and 2007 ESPY winner for best female college athlete and best overall female athlete. Mowatt inspired Holden to pursue her dream of pitching.
"That is what I want to do, I want to inspire young girls when I pitch, and she totally inspired me," said Holden.
Mowatt compared Holden's admiration of her to her own admiration of softball superstar and former Arizona pitcher Jennie Finch.
Thomas is a two-time NAIA pitcher of the year who led CBU to berths in two national tournaments. She was in her senior year at CBU when Ferreira and Holden were being recruited out of high school.
"I wanted to be just like her," said Ferreira. "When we first got here all we heard about were the Thomas sisters."
Ferreira has been good. Really good.
In her four years in Riverside she has won an NAIA pitcher of the year award, NAIA All-American honors, many conference player of the week awards and she and Holden have the second and third most wins in program history.
The combination has been so good that the advice of Thomas and Mowatt hasn't always been needed.
"We've had it pretty easy this year," said Thomas. "We just want to leave them alone and let them pitch."
Where the two coaches have looked to make an impact is on the mental side of the game. They want to be a source of support for the two seniors.
"We're here to pat them on the back when they do something good and when they are struggling, we help tweak their mental side," said Mowatt.
One of the areas they have made an impact is on the attitude of Ferreira, who admits that when she first joined the team she was so quiet that people must have thought she was mute.
Over the past year she has grown, however, and is now much more vocal and outgoing.
"She was very adamant about letting us know how much fun she was having this year," said Thomas. "It was cool to see her come out of her shell. To see her as a recruit and to see her now is like seeing a completely different person."
Ferreira recognizes and appreciates the impact that Thomas and Mowatt have had on her and her performance.
"They really help me focus and be able to do well," said Ferreira. "They take the stress out of my life a lot of the time when I'm out there and that has made it so much fun."
As Ferreira has broken out of her shell, her relationship with Holden has begun to blossom as well.
"Tory and Emma's relationship with one another is so cute," said Mowatt. "They really have each other's back. They are each other's biggest fan."
At first Ferreira and Holden were not the most friendly pair, as they were constantly competing for a spot in the circle, a spot that was frequently awarded to Ferreira their freshman year.
"Tory got the spot, and I have told her this before, but I wouldn't have minded if she broke her leg," said Holden with a smile on her face. "It wasn't until last year that we started to really appreciate each other and work together. We realized how destructive we could be together."
The coaches have realized this destructive force as well and have sought to make the most out of it. Holden and Ferreira are the only two to have thrown a pitch for the Lancers in 2012.
"The fact that they are so different from one another is a lethal combination," said Thomas. "It throws a team off when they have to adjust their approach because of the two styles, especially in a doubleheader."
This year, the Lancers' first year in the Pacific West Conference, both Ferreira and Holden have sub-2.00 earned run averages and more than 20 wins each; an accomplishment that has not gone unnoticed by Thomas or Mowatt.
"Emma admires what I did, but I admire what she and Tory are able to do," said Mowatt. "I am a fan of those two as much as they are fans of us."
Ferreira and Holden recognize the impact of the knowledge and experience that Thomas and Mowatt have been able to share with them and how that has led to their success.
"Nothing compares to coach Amy and coach T," said Holden. "They have a huge amount of knowledge that they give to us each day."
The two coaches complement each other just as well as the players do.
"What one doesn't know the other knows," said Ferreira. "Between the two of them we will figure it out and we will get better."
What makes the relationship between these four special is that it is not only the coaches who are doing the coaching.
"I think everybody has learned a little bit of something from each other," said Mowatt. "We try to help them fine tune their pitching and they have given us a great experience in our first year as coaches."
As that first season comes to a close the Lancers have one last tournament to enjoy their uncanny combination of pitching talent and as everyone knows, four aces are hard to beat.