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Senior Spotlight: St. Helena's Vega-Zepeda looked to improve her hot bat
Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight: St. Helena's Vega-Zepeda looked to improve her hot bat

From the Senior Spotlight: A celebration of Napa County student athletes series
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With the cancellation of the spring season for high school sports, the Napa Valley Register is recognizing senior athletes who have had their careers come to a premature end due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Today we focus on St. Helena softball player Gabi Vega-Zepeda. A four-year member of the softball program, Vega-Zepeda established herself as one of the Saints’ top offensive players and was in line to help lead what was starting to look like a resurgent season for her team.

Sports:

I played volleyball my freshman year and basketball and softball all four years.

Years on varsity:Basketball for two years and softball three years.

Fun fact:I can eat an Oreo off of my forehead.

Key stats:She was a finalist for Napa County Offensive Player of the Year as a junior after batting .447 with 17 hits, 6 RBIs, and 9 runs scored in 38 at-bats.

What was your reaction to the spring season being canceled?

I definitely took the cancellation of our season hard. I’ve been playing softball since the fourth grade and was always looking forward to my big season my senior year. I think it’s something any athlete looks forward to. Once I was told the news, I was filled with anger and mostly sadness.

What had you hoped to accomplish in your sport this spring?

I had hoped to achieve a better batting average. The last two years I had been really working on my batting and having more focus and confidence once stepping up to the plate. I also hoped to get to the playoffs. My team was on the right track. We were out there every day after school, working hard and making each other better. I had a very good feeling that we’d make it.

How has coronavirus changed your life?

More than I would’ve liked it to. The last three months of my senior year were taken away from me, along with all the fun senior activities planned. I wasn’t able to see my other classmates get their diplomas and I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to my teachers. Since the shelter-in-place order, I haven’t been able to see my friends and family. It’s really an odd time to live through for all of us.

Have you picked up any new hobbies during quarantine?

Since I have a lot of time on my hands, I’ve gotten into baking and cooking. I’ll admit I’m not the best, but I’ve got to start somewhere. I’ve also gotten more into politics. I realize, being young, it’s my job to be educated in what our country is dealing with and use my voice for change. Being educated is the best weapon I could ever have.

Best memory from high school sports?

That would probably be our basketball game against Fort Bragg. I was unable to play in that game, but I was still there cheering my team on from the sidelines. Since we don’t have big numbers, towards the end of the game my team was getting very tired and losing motivation. So, my coach called a timeout and the team decided if Tina (Almanza, junior) could score a basket, we would get Taco Bell, and she did! We all jumped and screamed over one little victory, which is special. It also was funny because the crowd and players were confused because we were clearly losing.

What advice you would give to younger high school athletes?

Enjoy what you have in the moment. I know it sounds cheesy, but trust me. Cherish the long practices even though you might hate them at the time. Cherish the bus rides, team lunches, stressful games, everything. Leave it all out on the field/court and play your hardest. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Some of my best experiences in high school involve playing sports. So just enjoy it. Know what you have in the moment before it’s gone. Because I’m done, and I’d go back and play another game if I could.

Summer plans:

Working and making money before heading off to college.

Fall plans:

I’ll be attending Pierce College in Los Angeles. I will be attending that college for two years and then transfer to either CSU Northridge or the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (in Los Angeles). I will also continue working while going to school.

Coach Brandon Farrell says

Unfortunately we didn’t really get the chance to coach her like we wanted to just because of the situation (with the pandemic). But she comes from a great family, is very goal-oriented, and has nothing but bright things ahead of her. It was just fun to get to know her for a little bit. I know her family a bit because her younger sister is the same age as my daughter, and it was nice getting out on the field and seeing her as a senior be very adaptable to the changes we were trying to make. That helped our young kids become a lot better and a lot more unified.

She’s played softball since she was a little kid in Little League, so softball, as far as I know, is one of her favorite sports to play. I mean she’s enjoyed it enough to be playing it since she was 8, 9 years old. I know the girls felt like they were on the verge of doing something exciting this season and we didn’t get the chance. That’s the way life goes, but you could tell right away she was adaptable to what we were trying to teach and she was positive with a lot of the young kids that were being brought up.

Senior Spotlight: A celebration of Napa County student athletes

With the cancellation of the spring season for high school sports, the Napa Valley Register is recognizing senior athletes who have had their careers come to a premature end due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact Gus via phone at 707-304-9372 or email at gmorris@napanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustGusMorris.

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Sports Reporter

Gus Morris covers St. Helena and Calistoga sports for the Napa Valley Register. Before joining the Register in 2018, he covered collegiate sports for the student publication at the University of Oregon.

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