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Fuentes accepts unexpected offer to play for Shawnee State
Alina Fuentes signs
Lathrop High senior Alina Fuentes has signed to play softball for Shawnee State University. COURTESY PHOTO

Alina Fuentes was set on attending a community college in Sacramento, where she would also be continuing her softball career.

The Lathrop High senior had hoped to improve her chances to play for a four-year university.

It turns out she won’t have to wait, as she landed an offer from Shawnee State. Last week, she made her commitment official by signing with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school out of Portsmouth, Ohio.

Fuentes was realistic of her chances to sign with a school after suffering ACL and meniscus tears in a knee during her sophomore year, so the scholarship offer was a bit of a surprise.

“For me, it was really big because I didn’t think I would get anything like this,” Fuentes said. “The injury was a big setback for me. It put me far behind because I didn’t get to go through the whole recruiting process that everybody else got. When I got (the offer), it was one of the best feelings ever.”

Fuentes flashed her potential as a freshman for Lathrop, hitting for a .477 average with a team-high 18 RBIs. She opted not to play for the high school over her final two years, focusing instead on her studies and preparing for the travel-ball season with Club All-Star Fastpitch coached by Jose Espinoza.

One of her former Club All-Star teammates currently plays for Shawnee State, and Espinoza reached out to first-year Bears head coach Sam White on behalf of his power-hitting first baseman.

“(White) really liked the way I hit, so I kept in contact with him and showed him a few videos of me hitting,” Fuentes said. “It all happened within a month or two.”

Shawnee State is in the middle of a big turnaround under White. Last year, the Bears went 8-30 but are now 23-14. They compete in the Mid-South Conference.

Fuentes plans on studying to become a special education teacher. She had always intended to go to an out-of-state school, and after meeting some of her future teammates remotely Fuentes was sold on Shawnee State and its softball program.

“I really like the coach, he’s super nice,” she said. “From the start, I liked how the girls were so welcoming. I get the feeling like it’s a family environment, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that and getting closer with all the girls.”