A short time after it began, the coronavirus pandemic forced the CIF to cancel the rest of the spring sports season, which meant an abrupt ending to the high school careers of spring sports seniors around the central valley. As a way of honoring some of these outstanding seniors, our Sports Central team will be presenting a series of stories called “Senior Standouts” each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday through the end of June.
CLOVIS, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Courtney Dale, the head softball coach at Clovis North for nearly a decade, couldn’t wait to see what this year’s senior class was capable of.
“This was the class that has changed the culture of our program,” says Dale.
Seven seniors in all, including six who’ve been playing together since the seventh grade.
The talent was there, and so was the confidence.
“We had that swag,” says senior Natasha Ochoa. “We knew we were big, and we were gonna do stuff this year.”
The senior group was headlined by Alyssa Orr, a three-sport star for North. As a junior, the Iowa State softball signee hit over .400 at the plate, and was dominant as a pitcher in the circle, while at the same time, also qualifying for the state track meet in the 400-meters.
Orr is one of four Bronco seniors who will be playing softball at the next level. Fellow four-year varsity starters Holly Lusk and Ochoa have signed with Saint Mary’s and Sonoma State respectively, and corner infielder Morgan Moffitt is headed to Briar Cliff University in Iowa.
“To watch them go on and be successful in school, and in softball and in life, that’s why we coach,” says Dale.
A fifth senior, Bonnie Shehadey, the senior class valedictorian, is headed to Cal Poly on an academic scholarship.
“Kind of an honor to play with all these girls, who are gonna go on and do so many great things,” says Shehadey. “It’s gonna be cool to see them on TV, and be like, ‘I played with her.'”
And then there’s Heather Ayerza. She was the league player of the year in volleyball during the fall, and an all-league selection on the diamond the last three years, a first in school history. She probably had the talent to play on in either sport at the next level, but instead, is going to focus on academics next year at Fresno State.
“We’ve had amazing experiences for four years, and it’s an amazing program,” says Ayerza. “So, we definitely cherish the memories and friendships we’ve created.”
When they were in sixth grade, the varsity softball program at Clovis North went 0-9 in the TRAC and won only four games total, but thanks to this group of senior standouts, the program is on solid footing, and set up for a bright future.
“We left behind a legacy,” says Lusk. “We have traditions, and just a culture put in place that we left behind. And I know we’re gonna be remembered for that.”