Focus. Intimidation. Drive. All qualities which every star athlete strives to achieve. As a softball pitcher, those qualities are especially important. With all eyes on you, physical and mental strength come into play every pitch of every game in every ballpark.
With another year of ball under her belt, sophomore Justine Vela possesses not only physical control but mental poise out on the mound. These skills have allowed her to dominate lefties and righties alike this past 2012-13 season.
With a final ERA of 2.03, Vela ranked third in the Big West Conference. She also led the league with a .177 opposing batting average, was sixth in innings pitched at 172.2, third in strikeouts at 175 and fifth in overall wins at 15. Earning her way into multiple ranking categories, her statistics reflected her ability to command both home and away games this year.
With Vela, the numbers do not lie. Her ability to throw a full game on a Friday and bounce back to throw a second game the next day is only one example of how she excelled physically on the mound. With a total of seven shutouts on the year, Vela deservedly received multiple top honors again this season.
In February, Vela was named Big West Pitcher of the Week. She then earned one of only 12 spots on the All-Tournament Team during the Aggies visit to Clearwater, Fla. for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Leadoff Classic, which was held from Feb. 22 to 24.
However, Vela’s biggest award came at the end of the year, when she received First Team All-Conference recognition. This marks her second year in a row of earning All-Conference accolades.
With all of her accomplishments not only this season but last, and high expectations for further success her next two years at Davis, Vela is worthy of being named Women’s Athlete of the Quarter.
— Sloan Boettcher