Haley Larsh is going to be an Otter.
The Lompoc High senior made it official Wednesday afternoon, signing a national letter of intent with Cal State Monterey Bay to play softball.
Denicia Gills, coach of the Aftershock travel team, was instrumental in her linking up with coach Andrea Kenney and her staff at CSUMB, Larsh said, noting that her father, Jason, played a key role in her softball development.
"My dad has always taken me to anything and everything," Larsh responded when asked how she was able to sign with a four-year program directly out of high school. "I've gone to so many tournaments with so many different teams and they've all made me better in different ways."
Cal State Monterey Bay fields a Division II softball program. The Otters were 12-12 when the 2020 spring season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Larsh has been a multi-year starter at catcher for the Braves and will stay behind the plate with the Otters.
"I like being a part of the play every pitch," Larsh said, describing her thoughts on catching. "Other positions can kind of get boring because you just stand there. Being a catcher, you're always doing something and you have to learn all the different positions and know them well."
In eight games last year, Larsh hit .452 (14 for 31) with two home runs, four doubles and 11 RBIs for the Braves.
Larsh has been trying to stay sharp with her receiving skills but has not had significant game action since her junior season at Lompoc High was cut short due to the pandemic in mid-March.
"I haven't been able to play that much," Larsh said. "We've kind of been taking a break because of everything going on."
Larsh said that she is hopeful for her senior season at Lompoc.
"I'm excited to be a senior and a captain. I'm excited for that whole experience," she said. "I'm just doing my best in school and trying to make the best of it. It sucks not being able to play or know for sure if we'll get to play."
Larsh said she plans to study to be a teacher at CSUMB and may minor in business.
Jason Larsh is hoping to get to see his daughter play one last season at Lompoc before catching some games in college.
"Monterey Bay is a good fit. I'll be there for at least all the home games," he said. "It's a good fit academically. She wants to study Elementary Education. It's close to home and close to family. For Haley, that's the best option I think."
Jason Larsh said Haley has a 3.80 GPA at Lompoc High, a sign of her work ethic.
Multiple athletic directors contacted Tuesday said the governor's announcement and Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties both moving from the 'substantial' red tier to the state's lowest purple tier, or the 'widespread' tier, did not force their schools to discontinue on-campus workouts with student-athletes.
"She's always worked harder than anybody out on the field," Larsh said. "I think that has pushed her above and beyond.
"I feel very proud of her, especially with all the stuff going on, with the pandemic and missing out on playing time. I'm just proud that she's persevering and following her dreams. She's making her dreams happen."
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