The family business
Arrianna latest Diaz to shine on softball diamond
Arrianna Diaz has always wanted to hit home runs and be greeted by teammates at home plate with slaps on the helmet, which have become customary in softball games.
The Grand Junction High School junior had watched her older sisters play softball and succeed.
“Marlena was always really good at softball,” Arrianna said. “I grew up watching her and wanted to be as good as her. I looked up to her and had to be as good as her.”
Softball has been in the Diaz family Arrianna’s entire life.
“She’s been around this since she was in diapers,” her father and coach, Adam Diaz, said. “I still play old man slow pitch. She’s been around it all her life. She grew up loving the game. She also pitches for us, but we don’t need her, which is nice.”
Arrianna is already doing a lot for the Tigers (10-1, 2-0 Southwestern League), who are ranked eighth in the latest Denver Post Class 5A poll.
The shortstop is hitting .400 with two home runs and 17 RBI for the Tigers this season. She hit a game-winning three-run home run against Central last week.
“I’ve never had so much adrenaline at the plate as I did that day,” Arrianna said. “I love it where they depend on you and it’s a do-or-die thing. There is so much adrenaline. When you do come through with that hit, it’s the best feeling.
“When all that adrenaline builds up, it releases out when you get that hit.”
Adam was as proud as he could be when his daughter came through in that situation.
“We talked about it before the last at-bat against Central,” Adam said. “She wants to get a hit, but she kept her composure and foul tipped, then hit a three-run homer. She hit two three-run dingers in that game.”
That win propelled the Tigers into first place by themselves and has them seeking their first league title since 2007.
“We’re mentally tougher this year,” Adam said. “When we made errors or mental mistakes in the past, we sunk. This year, no matter what happens, we believe we can come back and we have the talent to do it.”
The Tigers are hitting the ball well, with a .373 average, but they are getting solid pitching and defense to go with it.
Grand Junction has a .961 fielding percentage behind pitchers Cierra Cosslett and Elisha Jahnke.
“Our defense has been solid,” Adam Diaz said. “The game against Fruita, we gave up five runs and still won the game. They hit the ball, but we still made the (defensive) plays.
“Everybody depends on each other. You never know when it’s your time to shine and they all want to be in that situation.”
The team chemistry and camaraderie is what Arrianna enjoys the most.
“I don’t know what it is about (softball), but it is so much fun,” she said. “The softball team is almost like a whole new family kind of thing.
“We rely on each other to have each other’s back and turn that double play. We don’t depend on (only) one group of girls and we have confidence in each other.”
Arrianna isn’t concerned about playing softball at the next level just yet.
“For now, it’s what I love to do,” she said. “We’ll see what it brings me.”