by MOSES A. LEOS III
As family, teammates and coaches slowly filed into the Hays High’s Oran Bales room on Jan. 15, senior softball player Clarissa Gonzalez took time to soak in her surroundings. She beamed with pride, knowing just how much hard work went into where she is now.
All of the hard work, all of the sacrifice she and her family have made over the years have culminated in this special day: The day on which Gonzalez would sign on to continue her softball career at the collegiate level.
The Hays pitcher/utility player will travel just up I-35 to Temple, where she earned a scholarship to play for the Temple College Lady Leopards next year.
Gonzalez had always known that softball would be something which she would pursue beyond high school.
“I’ve been playing softball for almost all of my life. I played other sports when I was younger, but softball became the sport that stuck with me the most. I decided to keep playing softball because it is something I felt I could excel in at the next level,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez’s parents, Carlos and Nora Gonzalez, were excited on signing day. Not only because she was continuing her life’s journey in softball, but because she could continue her education.
“We’re so proud of her. She’s our only daughter out of seven kids. She has made us so proud,” Nora Gonzalez said.
“We’re very proud of her accomplishments,” Carlos Gonzalez said. “There was quite a bit of travelling, dedication and support. We have travelled clear across the state of Texas and even out-of-state to attend and support Clarissa’s softball games. The commitment we sacrifice for our kids has led to this day.”
Gonzalez, who was named to the All-District 27-4A team as an honorable mention, finished the 2012 softball season with astounding stats. Gonzalez owned a .369 batting average, driving in 18 RBI’s, hitting for 15 doubles, 11 triples and a .386 on-base percentage in 84 at-bats.
While Gonzalez’s batting stats are exceptional, her pitching stats are what caught the eye of Temple College head coach Kristen Zaleski. Gonzalez, who is a left-handed pitcher, finished the year with 26 strikeouts and an ERA of 6.30 in 40 innings pitched.
“Initially, what drew me was that (she) is a lefty. I’ve been looking for a left-handed pitcher to compliment my pitching staff for quite a while. You can have several pitchers in a pitching staff, but you need the balance of (right- to left-handed pitchers) to make it great,” Zaleski said.
Both coaches are eager for Gonzalez to help the Rebels in the upcoming 2013 season, labeling her involvement as a “big asset” to the collective of the team.