With the cancellation of the spring season for high school sports, the Napa Valley Register will recognize senior athletes over the next few months who have had their careers come to a premature end due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Today we feature Napa High softball Grace Guzman, who has signed a letter of intent to play for the top-ranked UCLA Bruins in the fall. Guzman has been a key member of Napa’s softball program since her freshman year, when she played every game for the team that won a Sac-Joaquin Section title.
Years on varsity:
All four years of high school.
At my first tryout for the Napa Junior Girls Softball League, I didn’t have any softball gear so I wore jeans and soccer cleats. I didn’t even know that was unusual.
By the numbers:
In 84 career varsity games, Guzman batted .466 with 132 hits, 104 runs scored, 50 RBIs, 23 doubles, 5 triples and 1 home run. She also stole 76 bases and only struck out just 19 times in 319 plate appearances. She’s earned All-Monticello Empire League or All-Vine Valley Athletic League First Team accolades every year, was a finalist for All-County Player of the Year as a freshman and sophomore, and a finalist for Offensive Player of the Year as a junior.
What was your reaction to the spring season being canceled?
Devastated. I wanted to finish strong with my fellow seniors and best friends Abby Arata and Cali Olmstead. Our team was super fun and easy to get along with.
What had you hoped to accomplish in your sport this spring?
I wanted to top my stats from last year, like batting average and stolen bases.
How has coronavirus changed your life?
I have to adapt by figuring out how to maintain strength for softball. I have a batting cage, which I am very fortunate to have during these times. I also get a lot more time to hang out with my family. My older brother, (former Justin-Siena and UCLA tennis standout) Michael Guzman, is staying in town. He lives down in Santa Monica. I got to reconnect with him and do fun things as a family that we never got to do.
Have you picked up any new hobbies during quarantine?
Yeah, I would say so. I draw a lot more now and I am getting better at it. I think working out has always been a hobby, but now with all this time I have I get to do it way more often.
Best memory from high school sports?
My best memory from high school sports is winning the section title during my freshman year. I still replay the last out of the game for us to win. Jenna Baker threw a strikeout and I threw my glove 20 feet in the air and we dog piled with everyone on the mound. That was my all-time favorite win, and I will remember it forever.
What do you miss most about sports?
My friends and just getting the opportunity to get out on an actual field. I miss playing catch with my warm-up partner, Abby Arata, and getting to joke around with our coaches. I feel like our team was just starting to get to know each other, too.
I’m hoping we can play summer travel ball; I would be very very upset if this gets canceled, too. They put out an email that our (Premier Girls Fastpitch) nationals is still on, so let’s hope that won’t change. I want to make sure I am at the best of my ability before I’m sent off to UCLA.
Attending UCLA ... hopefully, we won’t have to be online though.
Coach Ron Walston says:
Grace’s ability to handle the pressures of softball outside of high school was amazing. She came to practice, did her work, and kept her head up and supported all of her teammates.
Having the opportunity to coach an athlete of Grace’s ability doesn’t come around very often. I am honored to have been involved in her career at Napa High and look forward to watching her at UCLA.
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.
Sarah Husted, the focus of today's Senior Spotlight, was a defensive specialist at shortstop for the Vintage softball team.
American Canyon baseball standout James Larson had his lengthy varsity career cut short this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said he'll continue his playing career at Solano Community College next year.
St. Helena sprinter Ryan Searl, the school record holder in the 100-meter dash and focus of today's Senior Spotlight, had his sights set on competing at the state track and field meet this spring.
During his prep career, Calistoga's Jesus Rojas-Mendoza never came across a sport he couldn't master. The multi-time all-league and all-county athlete is the focus of the most recent Senior Spotlight.
Today's Senior Spotlight is on Justin-Siena baseball standout Nolan Dunkle, who felt the Braves could have won a title this spring.
Another installment of our Senior Spotlight, featuring seniors whose spring sports were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Napa High track and field standout Kyle Jezycki, the next focus of the Register's Senior Spotlight project, had aspirations of going to the state meet or breaking a school record.
The Napa Valley Register begins recognizing senior spring athletes in the first installment of the Senior Spotlight project.
Contact Gus via phone at 707-304-9372 or email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustGusMorris.
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