In eighth grade, when all of Sabrina Nunez’s peers were deciding where to go to high school, Nunez was deciding where to go to college. Eventually, Nunez committed to UC Berkeley for college softball.
Her commitment to Cal was another step in what has been a lifetime devoted to softball. Nunez first stepped up to the plate when she was four and has not stopped since. She made varsity softball as a freshman, and has scored 129 runs in her 99 games at Redwood. Nunez also holds a .511 high school career batting average, the second highest on her team. Her travel team, All American Sports Academy Gold, is currently ranked third in the nation and has won two national championships.
“She’s the kind of player all coaches want. She is one of the nicest kids, she is a great athlete, she is friends with everyone, and no one has anything bad to say about her. Even if she wasn’t a great athlete, her personality is just the kind of kid you want to have around,” said Emily Atkinson, Nunez’s Redwood coach.
Junior Annie Connors, a teammate of Nunez’s for the past three seasons, says that Nunez is the most spirited captain that she’s ever had.
“She’s a really good leader for our team; she’s always been really helpful,” Connors said. “She’s always helping everyone out and encourages everyone to do their best.”
Among the crowd at Nunez’s travel tournaments in middle school were recruiters from colleges across the country. Now, Nunez and the rest of her travel team are currently all committed to Division I schools. Nunez corresponded with Cal recruiters by phone every week during middle school, and was eventually offered a scholarship.
“It definitely takes off a lot of the pressure academically because I only have to get a 3.00 and a certain score on the SAT. But it was scary already choosing as a freshman where you are going to college because you don’t know what you want,” Nunez said.
Choosing Berkeley was not a hard choice for Nunez, as she had always aspired to go there. Even though committing to a school so early on eliminated the anxiety of applying to colleges, Nunez avoided the urge to take the easy way out academically.
“I do take harder classes because I want to prepare myself for Cal and not just coast through high school and get there and not be prepared as a student,” Nunez said.
Nunez not only brings athletic prowess to her Redwood team, but also leadership qualities that her team appreciates.
“She always makes everyone laugh and keeps it light even if we need to focus. She’s like ‘Okay, we need to focus’ but she never makes it depressing or sad,” Connors said, “She really keeps the team up with her positive energy.”
Nunez plays outfield for her travel team but Atkinson decided to try Nunez as shortstop upon entering high school softball.
“That was a little bit of adversity and I had to learn how to play infield and the rules of the position. I like [shortstop] because it’s a new mix up because I always played outfield. It’s a new perspective of the game,” Nunez said.
But being positioned as a shortstop didn’t prevent Nunez from excelling.
“She has shown her true athleticism in being able to play that position and play really well to earn a lot of different honors, like Player of the Year. Her abilities at shortstop have grown tremendously for someone who has never played there before,” Atkinson said.
Nunez plays year round on her travel team with girls from all over California and a few from Nevada. In keeping up with the demanding hours, Nunez has had to work her school schedule around softball, often missing social events and school dances.
Nunez followed in her mother’s footsteps, who played softball through high school, by choosing to play softball. Like her dad, Nunez played soccer, but eventually chose to dedicate all her time to softball.
“They were both very active growing up so they wanted that same lifestyle for me,” Nunez said.
According to Atkinson, the team will have to work to fill Nunez’s gap next season.
“It’s definitely going to be tough to see her go; she’s such a great player, great athlete and person. Losing that is going to be tough but she’s going to go onto bigger and better things, She’s going to do great at Cal. These juniors are going to have to step up and fill her shoes,” Atkinson said.
As her season wraps up at Redwood, softball will still be a key part of Nunez’s daily life.
“The sport in general gives you a lot of skills in itself,” Nunez said. “Creating bonds with the girls has definitely been a big part of my life and all the coaches that have taught me, I look up to all of them as role models. It’s a whole community in itself and it’s nice to be a part of.”