Someone tip Savannah Stephens’ hitting coach Mike McCauley for the work he’s done.
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The Golden Sierra shortstop has pulverized Sierra Delta League pitching the last few years … so much even she wonders what might have happened had she played for a bigger school in a higher division — thoughts quickly countered by advice Stephens received from her grandmother who told her, “it’s better to be a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond.”
The Greenwood resident has thrived in Garden Valley. As a four-year varsity player for the Grizzly softball team, Stephens has a chance to depart Golden Sierra having helped the program win four successive league titles.
“It would be nice to leave knowing each year we were league champs but I look at this year as a rebuilding year because we lost a lot of players,” Stephens said. “We’re a combination of old and new players. The potential is there thought we don’t always reach it. I think the team will be strong in the future which is something we want to keep going.”
This season will be the last Stephens has with teammates Marina Alexander, Samantha Bastien, Kristine Mendoza, Ally Baiz, Allie Widmann, Carley Kauffman and Erika Mabray whom she’s played with for many years going back to Gold Country softball.
Next year, Stephens will attend Vanguard University in Costa Mesa where she’ll study psychology to become a Behavioral Analyst. She also has plans to continue in softball and has a tryout lined up in June.
“By the time I talked to the coach they had finished recruiting,” Stephens said. “But I’m excited and confident I’ll make the team.”
Stephens’ resume will impress. Currently, she’s hitting .700. Last year she batted .500 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs and the year before, hit .630 with 28 RBIs — flirting with the section batting title right down to the end. Her senior goals are to break her own personal hitting records.
Awards-wise, Stephens has been All League the past two seasons, All Metro Honorable Mention and the Grizzlies’ Most Valuable Offensive Player both times.
Last year, she and the Grizzlies mourned the loss of former teammate Shannon Manchester. The two were teammates in Stephens’ freshman year.
“That brought the team closer together. She (Manchester) was close to a lot of us and we play for her knowing she’s watching,” Stephens said.
The opportunity to play for Vanguard, according to Stephens, came out of nowhere via an email that started a back-and-forth exchange. She originally went down to see ex-Grizzly Kenna Barth at Orange Coast JC and talk to them about coming there to play ball.
“When I went on a visit there (Vanguard) I decided I wanted to go there,” said Stephens who can see the Orange Coast college from the Vanguard campus.
Stephens began her career back in T-ball and advanced to travel ball by the time she was in fifth grade. She’s always had a large support group of grandparents and aunts and uncles at games to root her on.
“They’ve all helped me with my softball and love going to the games,” Stephens says
Her dad, Sonny, has coached her along the way and still does as Golden Sierra’s head coach, the third varsity coach Savannah has had in her four years.
“I’ve actually grown up with him (dad) being my coach. He expects more from me than anyone else so there’s some pressure but it’s also really nice,” Savannah said.
Though Savannah must audition for Vanguard in several months, she’s relaxed playing out her last weeks spent in a Grizzly uniform. With nothing left to prove except a deep playoff run, she’s finally at a point she’s not playing to impress.
At least not until Vanguard tryouts roll around.