By Gabriela Cavazos
Accomplishments racked up last year for the Our Lady of the Lake University softball team, especially for two members of the team.
Senior Captain Kat Arocha and Lori Gutierrez, a sophomore, received an invitation that few college athletes receive.
American International Sports Team has invited Arocha and Gutierrez to represent the United States in an exhibition tournament this summer in Paris. AIST recruits players from across the nation who have outstanding stats or have received tournament awards in previous seasons.
“My freshman season I received the all-conference recognition,” Gutierrez said. “I didn’t expect it would lead to my invitation to compete.”
Arocha, who will graduate in May, believes this invitation came with perfect timing.
“I’m not planning on continuing my softball career after graduation, so this will give me one last time to play the game I love,” Arocha said.
Gutierrez, who has more playing years, said this invitation will benefit her in more ways than she thought.
“Representing USA is not only a huge honor,” Gutierrez said. “Playing against teams from other countries with greater talent than I’m used to will give me experience I can bring back to my teammates.”
Gutierrez will have familiar support in the stands as she would at one of the OLLU softball games.
“My parents are almost more excited than me,” Gutierrez said. “They’re going with me to share the once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Arocha will play the international tournament with her parents not in attendance.
“I want to explore a new country and meet new people on my own,” Arocha said.
Both athletes have received encouragement from their teammates as they mentally and physically prepare for the experience.
Maegan Ramirez, senior captain and teammate, believes the girls will shine brightly with their talents.
“They’re both team players who have high skills for the game,” Ramirez said.
Freshman Kimberly Chaves believes the girls will succeed at the tournament.
“They’re both mentally and physically tough and produce outstanding performances when under pressure,” Chaves said. “That’s what separates the good players from the great players.”
Arocha and Gutierrez will continue to prepare for the trip while leading the OLLU softball team to another potentially successful season.