Wilson softball is in the midst of a memorable and historic season, so the senior day celebrations at Joe Rodgers Stadium tonight at 5:30 mean a little bit more for the eight Bruins play one of their last home games against Long Beach Poly.
Seniors Katelyn Howard, Joey Vega, Amanda Castro, Kendal Scognamillo, Rebekah Guzman, Hailey Lopez, Ashley Pottenger and Blanca Castro have led Wilson to first place in the Moore League after beating Lakewood for the first time since 2012.
“They’ve all been part of program for four years,” Wilson coach George Molina said. “Their commitment to the program, and their parents commitment, has been incredible. Usually some (players) fade away, but they’ve all stuck together. It’s going to be a special night, and they deserve it.”
Read more about pitcher Joey Vega and the leadership from these seniors…
Katelyn Howard’s live has always been about sports, and she likes it that way. The Wilson senior grew up going to USC and Angels games while always participating in multiple sports.
“I love sports,” Howard said. “Even if I can’t play in college, I still want to be around sports.”
Howard was named female athlete of the year at Rodgers Middle School, won a West National softball title in eighth grade with her Huntington Beach All-Star team, and has played volleyball and basketball while at Wilson. She was called up midseason to the varsity softball team as a freshman, and has hit .320 as a three-year starter. She had nine home runs and 33 RBIs last season.
Molina, who has been with the program for nine years but is in his first year as head coach, said he knew Howard and the Class of 2018 were going to be special when he saw them play their first summer season. He also said he sees the same type of talent in the freshman he has called up this season.
“We look like we’ve got some kids who could step up and carry it on,” Molina said.
Howard took time after practice on Wednesday to talk to us about her time with Wilson softball, and her future in sports…
Question: Do you want to play softball at the next level?
Answer: I’m going to the University of Oregon, and I’ve been emailing the coach. She said I can tryout to walk on in the first two weeks of school.
Q: You don’t want to try and play at a smaller school?
A: I’ve always wanted a Pac-12 experience, or a school with a football team, or a school known for its sports. Nothing came up (for softball) so I’d rather be happy and studying than not happy and playing.
Q: What do you want to study?
A: Psychology and sports business management. I took AP psych this year and loved it. And the sports business management program is only offered at Oregon.
Q: How nice is it to still have a familiar face in a new coach like Molina?
A: Coach has always had deep passion and a love for the game. He cares about us more than anything. He puts us first, always. We’ve had some issues before where commitment was a problem, but he’s been committed 100 percent. He knows his players strengths and weaknesses, and knows how to work with them.
Q: What is this Wilson softball senior class really like?
A: In past four years, we’ve definitely had our ups and downs. We’ve always been very close, I think closer than a lot of grades. Most of us are best friends outside of softball. I think that’s made us better because we’re not afraid to say something as a positive criticism. They know that their friend will use it as motivation to do better.
Q: That doesn’t sound like it’s always been easy. Has it?
A: No. We’re all very competitive with each other, on and off the field. Going back a few years, there’s always been a lot of conflict between playing time and what team everyone was on. It was the environment as a whole. But over the years it’s gotten a lot better. Every year we work though our problems in a more productive way. We understand now that at the end of the day the game and your team is more important.
Q: Sounds like you’re learning a lot about relationships, not just softball.
A: 100 percent. Especially this year, I’ve learned more about relationships and the team mentality. There’s no way we would’ve been successful if we didn’t come together as a team. In the times we’ve struggled, we know it’s because we’ve lacked that team cohesiveness.
Q: So, I heard you have to move from third to second base because of an injury?
A: Yes. It stings a little. I always pictured myself playing third base for my senior night. But it’s a team sport. I gotta do what I gotta do.
Q: Well, that sounds like the lesson this entire senior class has learned.
A: Yes. Over the past four years everyone has had to do it for the team at some point.