TURLOCK -- Denair's Britne Bacca thought she would be on her own as a college freshman at a campus across the country.
Then her Davis and Elkins College softball team was in dire need of a coach and Britne wasn't the only member of her family packing for Elkins, W.Va.
Jim Bacca, a retired police officer, had the blessing of his entire family -- wife Kristina and daughters Britne and Kortne -- when he was asked by athletic director Ralph Hill to leave the varsity softball position at Denair High and take the Senators' job.
"The AD had already heard about me and checked me out when we took Britne back there (in May)," Jim Bacca said. "I asked him if I could have a month to think about it. We sat down as a family four times that month and talked about it."
The local connection brought the Davis and Elkins team to Turlock this weekend for the Mizuno Best of the West Invitational hosted by Cal State Stanislaus. The Senators, who otherwise wouldn't take the field until mid-March thanks to snow on the ground, won their first game Saturday.
Davis and Elkins beat Chico State 5-3, with Britne Bacca hitting a two-run double and picking up the save. The Senators later lost to Seattle 5-0.
The Senators are staying at the Bacca house. Even if today's games get rained out, the Baccas said the trip has been a valuable team-bonding experience.
Jim said he has tried to give Britne her space, and still finds out more about her life from her mother.
Britne, who lives in the dorms, said she didn't balk at her dad following her back east.
"He's been my coach before, so it was OK," she said. "I knew we needed a coach."
Jim and Britne Bacca came home at least once per month during the first semester. Kortne Bacca, a senior at Denair High, has committed to the University of Vermont -- about 730 miles away from Elkins. Kristina plans to move to Elkins later this year.
Jim Bacca, who has a law degree, will also have an opportunity to teach criminal justice.
"It's all working out," he said. "I love it. It's beautiful back there. The campus is historic, with about 700 students. The challenge is being at the college level and recruiting. That's something I'm not used to. It's mind-boggling."
Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.