By John Philip Wyllie
A year ago, Hilltop High School’s softball team dominated the South Bay League posting a 12-1 record in their division and going 16-10 overall. While they are off to a slow 3-5 start, they fully expect to be at the top of the pack when the league championship is decided in June.
Junior catcher, Gaby Zayas, has impressed behind the plate for the Lancers. She has used her combination of smarts and skills to become one of the team’s vocal leaders.
“Behind the plate she is what we want her to be,” said veteran Hilltop coach, Nancy Acerrio. “She is the general and she sees everything that is going on. She is not afraid to tell the other players what to do. Gaby has stepped up and that is why she is our starting catcher.”
Zayas, currently hitting in the number two slot, has also been a consistent contributor at the plate.
“Veronica Mejia, our leadoff hitter usual gets on base and Gaby bunts well so she can move her around and then we have (team captain) Ashley Walkup, our number three hitter to bring them in. Gaby is a good base runner, so if she gets on she can often steal a base for us,” Acerrio said.
Zayas discovered softball at the age of 11. Since that time she has been playing it almost nonstop.
“A friend of mine introduced me to softball and since then I have been loving the sport. I’ve never stopped playing. I play on a traveling team and I have been trying to get better and better. I made the team here in ninth grade and from there I have worked my way up.”
Catching in softball is said to be the most difficult position to learn. Zayas enjoys the challenge. She brings a lot of enthusiasm to the team.
“You have to be the leader. You have to let everybody know what is going on and keep their momentum going.”
Zayas has no intention of stopping once she graduates next year. She hopes to play in college where she may pursue a degree in criminal justice. A G.P.A. that just a shade under 3.0 will make that possible. SDSU is one of the schools that she is considering.
Zayas has learned a lot through playing softball. Some of it can be applied to life in general.
“You always have to try your hardest. That is what I have learned. You have to work for your spot and never give up.”