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Antelope senior shortstop hopes her bat stays hot in Rams' first playoff trip in five years
The last time the Antelope softball team made the playoffs, Santana Castro was still in middle school.
But for the first time in five years, the Rams will play in the postseason and the senior shortstop is a big reason they are there.
“Starting off this year, I had her leading off,” Antelope coach Mike Jorjuria said. “But then she kind of developed this power and after about three games, I switched her from leadoff to cleanup hitter. There she's hit a couple home runs and four triples. It didn't take long to figure out that she didn't need to be the leadoff, that she worked better in that cleanup spot.”
Jorjuria is hoping that Castro's bat will continue to be big for the No. 18 Rams against No. 15 Bagdad in the first round of the AIA Division IV Playoffs at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Rose Mofford Complex in Phoenix.
The Rams saw a lot of new faces on the field this year and Castro — being one of only three seniors on the team — has stepped up to guide them.
At the same time, her teammates have helped Castro to become a better player, motivating her to win for them.
“Mostly I play because of my teammates,” Castro said. “They are all my friends and I do this because of them. I like to bring people in and have a lot of RBIs — I like to help the team.”
Castro's involvement with softball sprouted from playing T-ball at a young age. Eventually, her mother, Sophia Castro, put her into Wellton's summer softball program where she began to understand and appreciate the sport.
Over the years, Castro said, her mother has become her biggest fan and she's not sure if she would have made it this far with out her.
“My mom has always supported me and comes to every game. I want to thank her for that.”
A long season has amounted in the first playoff appearance ever for Castro and her team — and they couldn't be more ready.
“I'm really excited because I've never had this happen to me before,” Castro said. “I just worked at it with everybody and we made it.”
Jorjuria said he knows little about their opponent but after watching them at the Gila Bend tournament believes they are evenly matched.
In order to be successful, the Rams will need their three seniors — Castro, Anna Tillou and Jocelyn Salcedo — as well as their sophomore pitcher Kayla Cruz to be on top of their game.
“In the beginning of the year, we were kind of like the deer in the headlights and I'm hoping we don't revert back to that,” Jorjuria said. “It seems like we go good and then we get one error and then another and another. So we need to stay calm.”
Erin Redmond can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6880. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSErinRedmond.