So a little about me and my softball story. I am half Navajo American Indian and Cuban. I am originally from Bell, California. I am a former graduate assistant for the Gamecock Softball program at the University of South Carolina. I have just completed my Masters at USC in the Education Technology online program in early August. I have also recently moved to Midland Park, NJ and am looking to start personal instruction in regards to softball.
Just a little bit about me, in April of 2013, I was one of 20 seniors in the nation drafted into the National Pro Fastpitch league and I played my rookie softball season for the NY/NJ Comets. I continued to play two more seasons with the Pennsylvania Rebellion in the summer of 2014 and 2015.
My draft into the NPF is one of my best accomplishments but it definitely didn't come easy. Let me tell you my story on how I got to where I am today. I have two older sisters and a twin brother. Growing up, my sisters both played basketball and that encouraged me to find my love for sports. At my very young age, I could dribble like crazy. My dad would make me do dribbling drills with dribbling goggles which resulted in me have really good eye-hand coordination and quick hands (unknowingly setting me up for success in softball). I basically followed in the steps of my two older sisters. They played basketball, I played basketball. They played softball, I played softball. I first started playing softball at the age of 7. I was very athletic, but very small. I have always been told that I was too small, or too weak to be good. But I never let that excuse affect me; I always felt that I had to prove people wrong. Those words and thoughts of judgment about me being too small and weak would later be a common thing for people to say throughout my softball career; and I will tell you how they were all wrong.
At age 12, I originally batted on the right side, but my dad switched me and made me bat left. At the time, I was still very small, but very fast. The reason why my dad switched me to the left side is because I wasn't physically mature yet and physical strength was my weakness. By being switched to bat from the left side, I was able to use my one ability that most girls my age didn't have, and that was speed. The advantage to being on the left-side of the batter's box was that I was one step closer to 1st base. My strategy at the time was to either hit the ball on the ground or bunt the ball and beat it out. I would basically hit the ball and run. In softball terms, I was a "slapper".
After two years of dealing with the struggles of switching my batting stance, my dad (who was my travel ball coach at the time) refused to let me hit during softball games. Even my own dad didn't believe in my ability to hit. So as my first year of high school approached, I attended St. Joseph's High School in Lakewood, California. I came in my freshman year at around 4'11 and 85 lbs. I was very small, but very athletic. That winter, I tried out for the basketball program and made the freshman team. In spring, I tried out for the softball program but didn't make the softball program. The explanation for me not making the program was that I was too small. It was devastating but I knew had to get to work. Luckily, my dad started to become a hitting instructor. After school, I would always have to go and assist him with lessons. I would have to shag balls, set-up the hitting nets, bring the gear back and forth from the car to the field. But while I was there at his lessons, I found myself engaged in softball even more. I began setting up my own hitting stations and I attentively listened to what he would tell his hitting clients. I learned so much that year that during my sophomore year of high school, I made the varsity team and was the lead-off hitter and starting center-fielder. My junior and senior season was about the same, improving each day and maturing more physically. My three years playing for St. Joseph's High School I received many accolades but was still over-looked by college coaches.
With absolutely no idea what college I was going to attend, I knew that I wanted to continue my softball career, so once again I followed into my sister Cecily's footsteps and attended a local Junior College. I walked on to the softball program for Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA and that's where my hard work ethic continued. I earned my rightful spot as the lead- off hitter and starting center-fielder. I set a new batting record for Cerritos College with a batting average of .519. I also led the conference with batting average, on-base percentage (.594) and slugging percentage (.880). I picked up many awards that year including, California Junior College Player of the Year, Cerritos College Female Athlete of the Year, as well as, NFCA Cal JC All-America honors.
After my lone year at Cerritos College, I knew that my chance of transferring to a four-year university was in the near future. The hard work paid off and I made a name for myself. I was contacted by many schools but my ultimate decision was to be made between UCLA and the University of South Carolina.
Choosing what university I wanted to attend is probably one of the hardest decisions I have made in my young life. The decision was to either play for the 2010 defending national champions UCLA Bruins or for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks who had a losing season with a record of 11-40. I chose to play for the South Carolina Gamecocks, because I knew that I could change the program around. And so I did. During each of my three years at South Carolina, I improved each year and was awarded the MVP for all three years I was there. In 2013 during my senior campaign at South Carolina, I was selected by my teammates as Team Captain, and led my team to a winning season, a birth to the SEC tournament and the NCAA tournament - all for the first time since 2007.
If there's anything that I have learned throughout my softball career, it is that nothing comes easy and it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. At a very young age I was exposed to the mindset of a strong work-ethic by my father and cousin Jacoby Ellsbury. I have learned that you have work hard for what you want. And with all that I have already experienced in my young life, I have had a lot of fun. With all my hard work, I have been blessed with opportunities to travel around the country while doing something that I absolutely love. Some of my college has been paid for because of my athletic ability; and I really do want young female athletes to know that they can do the same if they have a strong work ethic.