By John Philip Wyllie
As a sophomore last season, Otay Ranch pitcher and first baseman, Valarie Acevas earned South Bay First Team All-League honors. Not content to rest on her laurels, she is back stronger and more determined as a junior this season to help her Mustangs as they set off to battle new competition in the Mesa league.
“Valarie demonstrates strong leadership and she is a hard-working kid,” said her coach, David Marin. “Sometimes the better players tend to slack off in practice, but not her. She is always giving 100%, so the other players look up to her. She is the whole package. She is always a strong leader whether she is pitching or playing first base. And she provides clutch hitting whenever we need it.”
Pressure is something she thrives on.
“I used to find it stressful freshman year because I wanted to be the best in everything. Now I understand that softball is team game and that I can’t do it by myself. I just have to have a lot of trust and faith in my teammates,” Acevas said.
15-10 a year ago, the Mustangs look to be even stronger this season. With two dominant pitchers, Acevas and Rebecca Galindo and an outstanding freshman shortstop, Samantha Gallardo, the Mustangs have plenty of star power. They also have a well rounded team that has at least four or five other players that are very solid. Acevas however, is the key.
“I started playing when I was six. My older sister was already playing by that time and I wanted to be like her,” Acevas said. Playing for various clubs as well as her school, she has kept at it over the years. She wants to become a complete player.
“When I am pitching I just think about pitching, but when I am hitting I try to be the best hitter that I can be. I am trying to be a good all-around player rather than just concentrating on one thing.”
For Acevas, softball has become a nearly year round endeavor. At present, her high school season is on the top of her agenda. A 30-1 victory in the season opener has optimism running high.
“We have new equipment, new coaches and new expectations, so this year we are setting our standards high and we plan to go really far,” she said.
Her long term goal is to use her high school career as a stepping stone for a college scholarship. In order to get one, she knows she has to be well-rounded both on the field and off. Her grades should be an asset.
“My parents and I are really concentrating on trying to get a scholarship. I am in a scouting program on the internet where they make a website for you and colleges can look at you and send you information. The University of Oregon and Humboldt State are two that I am very interested in, but I’m O.K. with any school that will give me a scholarship.”