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Class of 2020

Article by Bruce Orcutt

This is certainly not the celebration article I was expecting to write when we kicked off the final year of high school and travel ball for our 12 amazing senior student athletes.

This group was born in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Their formative years were spent in the last “new normal” I can remember, which for them was simply normal. That said, if any group is ready to adjust and thrive under these very challenging circumstances, it would be the high school graduating class of 2020. Although it may not be fair or how we wanted the world to be for them, they grew up in a time where all Americans were living the idea that tomorrow is never promised.

Last high school softball seasons, teacher goodbyes, proms, graduation ceremonies, picnics, ditch days, and even the potentially cringe-worthy but much-loved senior musicals will be missed or dramatically altered. And while we can help the girls put it in perspective against the loss of life or someone’s health, that doesn’t change the fact that it really, really, really sucks to be missing out on so much. We have tried to make up for it as best we can with personal posts on social media, community caravans driving by homes, Zoom calls, and new ways for coaches to reach out to players to celebrate their contributions and commitments to programs, teammates, communities and, of course, high schools. But we also need the girls to know that we know it hurts. A lot.

The class of 2020 is strong. The class of 2020 overcomes and adjusts. The class of 2020 deserves to be celebrated.

Our girls are focusing on what they can control and, with the help of parents, coaches, teachers and mentors, keeping their minds and bodies strong while they prepare for what is next on their journey. We could not be prouder of these amazing young women that we honor today:

Alessandra Samperio
Mary Star of the Sea High School

What memories will you carry with you from your high school softball career?

Most of the memories I will carry with me from my high school softball career are the long-lasting friendships I made with my teammates and my coaches. Mostly my teammates in my class though because we have been through at lot of ups and downs in our four years together. I will also carry with me all the fun times we had going to a game on a bus or when we would do challenges at practice to make us better as a team.

Many years down the road, what advice will you give your daughter as she starts her high school softball career?

I would tell my daughter as she starts high school softball  as like anything else, always work your hardest and to put in 100% in everything she does from doing the simple drills at practice to actual game time. I will also tell her not to take it easy and slack off especially because in high school it is easier to do those things with other girls and teams that aren’t on the same level. But most of all to always love what she is doing, to have fun, and make the most out of it.

How have you adjusted your goals for softball this season?

Even though high school softball has been cancelled and we probably won’t play anymore games this season, I have adjusted my goals by making sure I am ready to play at any moment. We don’t know when this virus will all go away, so I am trying to keep my game mentality and my game readiness up by visualizing myself in game like situations and staying in shape.

Antuanett Dean
Silverado High School

Many years down the road, what advice will you give your daughter as she starts her high school softball career?

I would tell her to have fun! But to also use high school softball as a tool. To use the countless reps and hours of practice towards her goal, whatever that may be.

How has high school softball impacted you as a person?

I would say it has impacted me for the better. Showed me that dedication and love for the sport is not in everyone. Made me realize that I’m a part of something that’s rare to many. That helped me realize who I am today.

What are you doing to keep yourself in shape and game ready?

I have been trying to become stronger physically and mentally for this upcoming season. I have been working out every day and watching softball games. I try to analyze the players and teams as a whole to get a deeper understanding of the game.

Bailey Wallace
Granite Hills High School

Describe how your ideal HS season would have come to an end?

I would have loved to have won league champs this year and definitely CIF as well. However, I was most looking forward to my Senior Night. All of the other seniors on my high school team are my best friends. We all hang out together in and outside of softball. We’ve all known each other since we were kids and have grown up playing with and against each other. I would do anything to play with them one last time.

What memories will you carry with you from your high school softball career?

There are so many amazing memories I’ll carry with me down the road from high school softball. Team bonding each year is definitely one of my favorite memories. Freshman year, everyone on our team beside the freshman fell asleep early. So we all decided to go walk the neighborhood and race each other up and down the streets. We ended up being out and about until 2 am. Then we finally came back in and fell asleep in a tiny office all together. Sophomore year, everyone hopped in a car and we drove around finding houses to ding dong ditch. At one of the houses we parked a ways away and turned the cars off. One of my teammates who was driving lost the car keys and we were all in a panic. Luckily she found them and we drove off as fast as possible. Junior year we repeated the tradition of ding dong ditching houses. As you can imagine, it was always full of adrenaline and never got boring. Finally this last year, we took a team trip to Chick-fil-A and on the way back to the girls house we were staying at one of my teammates threw her milkshake all over my car. So then once we got back I made her wash my car when it was 38 degrees outside. I’m so grateful for all the memories I made on and off the field and I will never forget the crazy things we did together.

How has high school softball impacted you as a person?

For me high school softball as a whole was a highlight. I loved every second of playing for my school alongside my best friends. My freshman year we had five freshman and five seniors. I didn’t really know how it was all going to play out. I was very nervous to see how the seniors would treat us because we came in wanting to take their spots on the field. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how most of them reacted. Several of them took us under their wings and were like big sisters to us. I’ll never forget how much I learned from them and the memories we made.

Britton Rogers
Cypress Ranch High School

How has high school softball impacted you as a person?

High school softball has taught me to deal with new people and new situations every year. Every year we have had to adapt to new people and lead the way to be successful every time we take the field, which stems from strong leaders.

How my ideal season would have ended?

In a perfect dream world, our season would have ended making it to playoffs and having a deep competitive run, with the excitement and fun that surrounds the intense five rounds. It is a dream to make it to state but I love spending the time with my team during our playoff time so looking back at it now, that is what I could wish for more than anything at this point in time.

How I am staying in shape?

Luckily for me I have a built-in pitching coach with my mom. So I am still able to pitch every other day and doing drills on the days in between. Also still doing workouts regularly during the week. It is also important that I am still doing mental training during this time to get better and stronger and using this opportunity to the fullest.

Carly Robbins
Los Alamitos High School

What are you doing to keep yourself in shape and game ready?

In order to stay in shape and stay game ready, I have been working out and doing exercises to better my physical and mental game. I take batting practice in the cage with my dad and he also hits me ground balls in the backyard so that I can maintain my fundamentals.

How has high school softball impacted you as a person?

High school softball has shaped into the person I am today. I was lucky enough to been part of a program which not only puts an emphasis on winning but developing each girls character. The program demands leadership skills, accountability, and giving back. Events such as the Toy drive we participate in and other charity events allowed me to gain perspective on just how lucky we are and give back to the community.

Describe how your ideal HS season would have come to an end?

My ideal high school career would have come to an end with us winning the CIF championship. Although we weren’t able to compete for the CIF ring, I have closure with the way our season ended; undefeated, winning the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions and finishing my career off with the people I started with.

Jamie Sellers
Los Alamitos High School

Describe how your ideal HS season would have come to an end?

My ideal high school season would’ve have ended with my girls and I being CIF champions.

Many years down the road, what advice will you give your daughter as she starts her high school softball career?

The advice I would give to my daughter as she starts her softball career is what my coach always told me and that is “to practice and play like no one is watching”.

What memories will you carry with you from your high school softball career?

Memories I will always carry with me is from the annual tournament in Laughlin, CA. The most fun games of my career have been at this tournament, but also our friendships grow, and the memories made here last forever.

Payden Bordeau
Lake Brantley High School

Many years down the road, what advice will you give your daughter as she starts her high school softball career?

Many years down the road I would tell my daughter to play every high school game like it’s her last. They say time flies and it really does. Each year you meet new people and get to play with so many girls you wouldn’t have ever met in travel ball! The four years you play high school ball goes by in a blink of an eye so don’t rush through it. Be outgoing, have fun in every game, and know you’re blessed to have this sport every day!

How has high school softball impacted you as a person?

High school softball has impacted me as a person in so many ways. Over these past 4 years I’ve grown my game but more importantly this new experience has taught me how to become a leader and learn how to communicate with coaches and teammates. High school ball is a whole new chapter of your life with new people that you grow such an amazing bond with since you guys are together every single day! With that being said it really has brought me so many new relationships and has strengthened so many lifelong friendships!

Now that you are unable to practice with teammates at the moment, what do you miss most about organized softball (high school or travel)?

Now that we aren’t playing, I miss the environment and experiences that softball brings to our lives. From wearing jerseys on game days at school to traveling to California to meet and see tons of new faces, softball is a big puzzle piece that is missing.

Riley Orcutt
Mater Dei High School

Many years down the road, what advice will you give your daughter as she starts her high school softball career?

I would tell her to play every game like it’s your last, have no regrets when you walk off that field every day. Even though you might have had a bad game, it doesn’t matter. You just want to walk away knowing you gave it everything you had and you will work harder next time. 

How has high school softball impacted you as a person?

I have made some of my best friends, that I know will stand by my side through anything. My coaches have taught me how to be more independent and take control of myself rather than watch others. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. 

Now that you are unable to practice with teammates at the moment, what do you miss most about organized softball (high school or travel)?

I miss laughing and making memories with them. It isn’t the same working by yourself or pitching by yourself. It’s why softball is a team sport, we all support each other and push to not only better ourselves but others. 

Savannah Serratta
Sultana High School

What memories will you carry with you from your high school softball career?

I have many amazing high school memories. I was the Rookie of the Year as a freshman, I was my teams MVP all three years and I was lucky enough to make all league first team all three years at Sultana.

How has high school softball impacted you as a person?

Softball has taught me many things throughout the time I have been playing it. It has taught me to never give up, no matter how tough the situation can be, you push through. It has also taught me to have time management skills, compete at a high level, and to play with honor.

What memories will you carry with you from your high school softball career?

Throughout playing in high school I have made so many lifelong friendships I will never forget. My favorite memory would have to be winning league undefeated and advancing all the way to CIF Round 4 my Junior year.

Shelbi Ortiz
Huntington Beach High School

Many years down the road, what advice will you give your daughter as she starts her high school softball career?

Advice that I would give to my daughter as she starts her high school softball career would be to make the best of every moment and to play every game as if it was your last because you never know what will happen tomorrow. Most importantly I would tell her to have fun and enjoy playing and representing her school.

How has high school softball impacted you as a person?

Softball has impacted me in so many ways and all for the best, it has made me both physically and mentally stronger. Softball has introduced me to a whole new world of friends and family and has taught me that with perseverance and trust that everything will end up the way it is supposed to.

Now that you are unable to practice with teammates at the moment, what do you miss most about organized softball (high school or travel)?

The thing that I miss the most about organized softball is not only the constant workouts and practices and the overall routine that I have lived for the past few years, but I also miss the quality time spent with my teammates at practices and games that most of us tend to take for granted.

Thessa Malau’ulu
St. Anthony's High School

What memories will you carry with you from your high school softball career?

My most memorable highlight of high school softball was winning the CIF Southern Section Championship for our division my freshman year. I will never forget the final out and the celebratory dog pile to end the game.

Describe how your ideal HS season would have come to an end?

My ideal high school season would’ve ended with us hopefully winning the CIF division 3 championship. Our team had all the tools to do it and we were 8-0-0 when they decided to cancel the rest of the season.

What memories will you carry with you from your high school softball career?

Every moment I got to spend playing alongside my sister and cousins meant the most to me these past 4 seasons. It was a dream for us to all go to the same high school and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity we had to do so.

Xophia Venegas
Charter Oak High School

Many years down the road, what advice will you give your daughter as she starts her high school softball career?

Many years down the road, I would advise my daughter to cherish every moment. I never really considered how deep this was, until I had my senior year taken away in the blink of an eye. The little things matter. Have as much fun as possible & continue to play the game like you know how to do. Play every game like it is your last & never taken anything for granted. Enjoy the moments on the field with your best friends & teammates because it all flies by.

How has high school softball impacted you as a person?

High School softball has impacted me as a person by teaching me life lessons first hand. It taught me how to be an independent individual and to be a leader. It is important to step up and take charge and it feels great knowing that your team trusts you. It has also taught me to focus on the little things. This is a time of off-season for travel, so take things seriously and get better. Lastly, it taught me how to react to certain situations that aren’t the best and turn them into life lesson

How have you adjusted your goals for softball this season?

I have adjusted my goals for softball this season by taking matters into my own hands. I have stepped up, with the trust from my teammates, to create a workout plan for the incoming freshman at Iowa, to ensure we stay in shape and are prepared when we get to school. I use this time to get stronger and focus on the things I can control. A lot of the game is controlled by the mind, so I have been working on that aspect of the game a lot too. Training with hitting or fielding each day on my own, or with my siblings joining me, continues to be the highlight of my day because it is my stress reliever.