A weighted vest. A parachute. A hitting tee. Her softball glove. A ball.

Those are the tools Righetti High School freshman shortstop Rianna Dulay has used to stay in shape during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taua, who graduated from Lompoc High in 2014 and played defensive line and fullback at UCLA, is our second nominee for Player of the Decade. The sports staff at the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News polled area coaches for nominees and will allow readers to vote for Player of the Decade after all the nominees have been announced. Arroyo Grande's Seth Jacobs, the first nominee, was announced last week.

After schools statewide closed in March, so did all team workouts. So Dulay has developed a solo workout routine — well, not exactly solo. Her father, Santa Maria Reds president Rob Dulay, hits ground balls to her off the hitting tee — of her own.

"Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are my usual workout days," said Rianna Dulay.

"I run with the weighted vest and parachute for 30 minutes in the grassy area at Hancock College," she said.

"Running with the parachute helps to build up my legs. The weighted vest helps with both my legs and upper body."

After the running, "My dad and I go to a grassy area across from Olive Garden," said Rianna Dulay.

Then comes a steady diet of balls coming off the tee, courtesy of her dad, for the Righetti freshman.

"I work on my fielding for about an hour," she said.

Rianna Dulay made the Righetti varsity softball team as a freshman. She was second on the team in hitting at .467 when, with Righetti sitting at 3-5, its 2020 season ended because of the pandemic.

Dulay had seven hits in 15 at bats during her truncated freshman high school season. At .500, she was second among the Righetti regulars in on-base percentage.

The last sporting event on the Central Coast took place March 13. The CIF State office announced April 3 that all post-season spring sports events were cancelled, and the spring season statewide effectively ended for everyone.

That has not deterred Rianna Dulay from taking it upon herself to tune up for next season.

"It was hard," when she and her teammates were told in March that the rest of the season was on hold (then subsequently cancelled), said Dulay. "But I've adjusted to it."

Softball is the only sport Rianna Dulay plays at Righetti. Her youth baseball area roots run deep as well.

Active in Santa Maria Valley Little League baseball as a child, Rianna Dulay played for the Santa Maria Southside Angels.

She then went on to play Babe Ruth ball. A reliable-fielding infielder, Dulay made the Santa Maria 13-year-old All-Star squad in 2018.

The Dulays are an established baseball family. Current Santa Maria Reds president Rob Dulay is a veteran baseball coach.

Like other students across the nation, Rianna Dulay has had to adjust to distance learning.

"I'd rather be in the classroom," she said. "But I've adjusted to online learning."

Central Coast Classic Series: We look back at some the biggest games in the area's history

With a little extra time on our hands, we are taking a look into the past of prep sports on the Central Coast. Our sports staff has been going through our archives searching for photos and stories highlighting some of the most pivotal games area teams have played over the last two decades.

You can support the hard work of our local sports team by signing up for a News+ Membership

Senior Spotlight Series: Celebrating the area's top senior student-athletes

Our 'Senior Spotlight' series is aimed at highlighting senior student-athletes who have had their final year of high school disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The athletes featured here were their school's nominee for Athlete of the Year or Student Athlete of the Year for the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table's end-of-year banquet that has been canceled due to the outbreak.


Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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