Liebesman, Valdez Form 1-2 Punch for SMC Softball
The SMC softball team has struggled to find rhythm this season, but two players have worked to help keep the team going. Sophomore Taylor Liebesman (#23), and freshman Nicole Valdez (#14) have both had stand out games this season, and they aren’t stopping any time soon.
Taylor Liebesman is a transfer student from San Diego Mesa College, and hasn't played softball since her freshman year of high school. Liebesman had no problem finding her rhythm with the bat and on the mound however, and she's proven to be a key contributor for the Corsairs, usually starting games at third base because of her powerful arm.
Liebesman usually pitches later in games, and is capable of striking out batter after batter regardless of their skill level. Liebesman completely stopped the Bakersfield Renegades with her arm after they had ran up 10 runs in the three innings prior to her entrance.
Liebesman said that when she comes in the game to pitch, “its been really helpful just being involved with my team”.
Liebesman says that as a two-way player, she's produced mixed results. She holds a 9.34 earned run average and 20 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings as a pitcher, but has improved down the stretch. Her skills on the plate show a stat line more akin to her true ability, as she's crafted a .377/.450/.585 slash line with one home run and 16 runs batted in this season. Her home run is also the team's only one of the year.
Liebesman's biggest motivator has been her father. When she told her father she was ready to lace up her cleats again he replied with, “Are you kidding me? Lets go now!” When asked if she was willing to further her softball career, Liebesman said, “softball is not something I will sell myself short with, if teams look at me I'm going to go forward with it and I will try to get on their softball team”.
Meanwhile, Corsair center fielder #14 Nicole Valdez has made the outfield a danger zone for her opponents all season long. Whether she’s making a simple catch off a pop fly or diving across the outfield for a ball, you'll always see her going at 100 percent. At the plate, she holds a slash line of .333/.440/.476, while anchoring the outfield with a fielding percentage of .900, a great statistic on defense.
Valdez has been playing baseball her whole life, and only started playing softball at the age of 14. Valdez isn’t worried about going on to play at a four year school though, saying: “if it happens it's going to happen.”
Valdez still has a year to grow as a player before she needs to make a decision to keep playing at a university or not. Valdez was sure to make it clear that school is the most important to her, so that will continue to be her main focus throughout her softball career.
When she was asked if she thinks she could help the team win more games as she progresses, her response was: “It’s not just about me, not about my plays or my hits but more about our attitudes, how we help each other out and how we pick each other up so I can definitely help in that aspect of the team.”