By John Philip Wyllie
There is a youth movement afoot within Hilltop High’s softball team and freshman infielder Natalia Rosales is at the heart of it. No less than seven ninth graders populate the school’s varsity roster and while that means the Lancers (6-9) will no doubt take some lumps this year, it bodes well for the future. Splitting time between shortstop and third base, Rosales is developing into a quality infielder.
“Natalia is a strong player that loves the game of softball and wants to learn about the game,” said Lancers coach, Nancy Acerrio. “Since we returned from Las Vegas Natalia has been seeing a lot of playing time and has really come along with her bat. She has moved up in the batting order to the third slot and she has become a run-productive hitter for us. We have moved her from shortstop to third base and she also pitches a little bit, so she is a well-rounded player. She is finding out how different high school ball is from the travel ball that she is familiar with.”
While the Lancers are clearly a young, developing team, they do have a veteran outfield. Seniors Sam McFadden, Gaby Zayas and Alyson Merz have the speed necessary to run down fly balls and they also supply plenty of veteran leadership.
They are our leaders and they know the traditions we have established here at Hilltop and they keep them going,” Acerrio said.
Accerio also uncovered a solid pitcher in sophomore Jordan Rhudy.
“Jordan is really coming around and has become a mainstay for us. She is pitching the majority of our games and she is developing at the plate. She hit two home runs last Saturday against Bonita Vista, so that has given her a lot of confidence.”
Rosales first learned the game from her mother who in her youth also played shortstop, third base and pitched for a club team in Orange County.
“I started playing in Imperial Beach when I was about nine. My mom coached me for three seasons,” Rosales said.
More recently she has been playing club travel ball with Las Palmas and Bonita Valley. Her weekends are often spent in the back of a van driving to fields throughout Southern California, the neighboring states and occasionally Mexico.
“My goal is to get a softball scholarship and play in college.” Rosales said.
The fact that she is a solid student with a G.P.A. hovering around 3.6 will only help.
One thing Rosales knows she can count on is the support of her family. Her mom attends every game and often has her brother and sister in tow. Rosales represents Hilltop in volleyball and basketball as well, but softball, she believes, is where her future lies.