Reaching the end of the college journey can be difficult and intimidating. For senior infielder Ariel Ortiz, the feeling of intimidation is dwarfed by the excitement of entering the next phase of life.
“It’s kind of exciting to see what’s next,” Ortiz said. “I’ve done softball ever since I can remember, so moving on is kind of … scary; but it’s also exciting.”
The Waxahachie, Texas native began her softball career around the age of eight after a short stint playing baseball.
“I actually started in baseball,” Ortiz said. “I stopped at coach pitch and went to softball around the time they start using the machines.”
Ortiz joined the Bobcats in 2015, starting in all 53 games as the everyday shortstop. In the same season, Ortiz led the team in home runs with 12, doubles with 16, total bases with 111 and runs scored with 44.
Now in her final season, Ortiz is Texas State’s all-time leader in home runs with 33 and holds the single-season record for home runs with 15 in 2017. Her .324 batting average is second all-time among the Bobcats.
Ortiz is determined to make the best of her remaining time. The senior infielder has high expectations for the 2018 season and feels that the team around her, despite their youth, can help her meet or surpass those expectations.
“I’m very confident in our team right now,” Ortiz said. “The girls are meshing well, so I’m really excited for what’s in store (this year).”
Ortiz and the Bobcats made waves in the 2017 postseason before losing the Sun Belt Conference championship to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and getting eliminated from the NCAA College Station Regional by the Texas Longhorns.
Ortiz makes it clear, however, that the last season is in the past. The senior infielder views the team’s mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve.
“You always have to move on,” Ortiz said. “You can’t dwell on the past. You can only work to change the future. We’re getting better every day, so I think we’re ready to take on more competition and go farther.”
Ortiz, one of the team’s veteran players, takes her job of empowering the younger, less-experienced members seriously as she hopes to leave them able to carry the team after her departure. For the infielder, the growth of new players takes some of the pressure she feels.
“Taking them under your wing and not so much focusing on yourself, honestly, it helps,” Ortiz said. “I don’t feel pressure. I’m not worried about what I need to be doing. It’s almost relaxing that I get to help other people now.”
Even with all the winning and all the individual success she has had, it is the camaraderie she found among her fellow Bobcats that will stay with her.
“It’s been so much fun learning from everyone and getting to know all these girls,” Ortiz said. “I would just thank them for the memories and sticking it out with me through the bad times and the good.”