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Softball: Santa Maria High seniors get their banners, helmets

Softball: Santa Maria High seniors get their banners, helmets

According to Santa Maria High School softball team tradition, a banner is made for each senior.

The banners are hung up at the Santa Maria softball field then taken down at the Saints' last home game and presented to those seniors, along with the batting helmet each used that year.

This year there was no final home game for that presentation to the seniors because in March, the rest of the Saints' 2020 season, along with everyone else's, was scrubbed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Team officials made sure the seniors got their banners and helmets anyway. The five Santa Maria softball seniors this year were Samantha De La Cruz, Marissa Caro, Michaela Melena, Ashley Guzman and Alycia Castillo.

De La Cruz was the only one who played varsity softball for three years, plus the truncated 2020 season.

"I wasn't really surprised that we got them," said De La Cruz, who was a third baseman and four-year starter for the Saints.

She hit .365 for Santa Maria her junior year. No stats were available for the team for 2020. Then again, they only played eight games. The Saints were sitting at 2-6 when their season ended.

Before Saints' home finales in past seasons, "I'd seen the seniors get an individual banner that was given to them by the coaches as a senior gift," said De La Cruz.

"I was able to get mine early this year and take it home," because of the shortened season.

"I was very excited. My dad was very proud to put it outside our house "

Though De LaCruz  and the other Santa Maria seniors were able to take their memorabilia home early, that didn't mean they weren't bitterly disappointed when their season ended after eight games.

"It was a shock," said De La Cruz.

When the end came, "We were about to play our first league game," De La Cruz said. "We showed up at the meeting in our uniforms, expecting to play."

Instead, the team's coaches had to inform the players that their season was over.

"I'd never been around a group of girls who worked so hard," said De La Cruz.

Melena was a third-year varsity player for the Saints in 2020. Caro was a second-year varsity player. Guzman and Castillo were first-year varsity players that year.

De La Cruz said she plans to attend Hancock College next school year.

"Because of this whole COVID-19 thing, I haven't decided yet whether or not I'm going to play softball there. I've heard they plan to have fall classes online.

"I would love to play for them if they'll have me."

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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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