By John Philip Wyllie
Following a trail blazed by Olympic softball Gold Medalists such as Lisa Fernandez and Jessica Mendoza, Point Loma Nazarene University’s Vanessa Parra is making a name for herself as the Sea Lions sure-handed second baseman.
“Most of the Hispanic girls that have played for me have been really tough,” said veteran Sea Lion coach, Dave Williams. “They don’t complain and they get the job done. Those are some qualities that Vanessa has and she is also very smooth.”
Icing her shins Tuesday evening after contributing to a double header sweep of Biola University, Parra spoke enthusiastically about her role for the 22-6 Sea Lions.
“I start at second base, but I also try to be there for my teammates, so I cheer really loud,” the San Jose native said.
“Fielding is definitely my strength while hitting is more of a weakness. I’m able to shake things off and come back strong on defense. With my hitting, I tend to think a lot and with softball you can’t do too much of that. It’s all about (quick) reactions.”
Undefeated thus far in leag-ue play (6-0), Parra is optimistic about the team’s outlook.
“We have a lot of talent on this team and I think we can go far. We all just need to come together. Once we play a little more as a team in all the aspects of the game I think we can go all the way. I think we can win our league and then go far in the nationals.”
The Sea Lions have qualified for the national tournament every year for the last five seasons. In 2002, they went to the finals. Parra and her teammates are hoping that this year will be their year.
While she starts at second, Parra can also play shortstop. In fact, during her prep years at San Jose’s Valley Christian High School, Parra was a four-time All-League shortstop and a league MVP. When she joined the Sea Lions, she split time between second and shortstop, but this year, she has become the regular second baseman.
Now in her third year with the team, Parra remains pleas-ed with her decision to leave home and relocate in Ameri-ca’s finest city.
“I grew up in the church and in a Christian community and I went to a private Christian high school. The combination of the location and the school itself is what brought me here. The fact that their softball team was just amazing was an added bonus. I really enjoy playing for this team.”
Playing for the Sea Lions however, requires a major commitment.
“You need a lot more dedication to play here. It is a lot of work and it can be grueling at times. You have to make an effort every single day. It has to be in your heart. Coming out here and putting in all these hours means that you are sacrificing a lot. There are a lot of distractions here with the beach so close by. The key, I think, is dedication and the will to play.”
Parra and her teammates have proven that they can do that. The only unanswered question is how far their determination and talent will take them.