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Timberwolves trio will compete as rivals for NAIA schools
Bulletin softball 2020
Nicole Gardner (8) gets a high-five from Savannah Guzman after plating a run against visiting East Union on March 21, 2019. - photo by Wayne Thallander

Sierra High softball standouts Nicole Gardner, Samantha Lorge and Lisette Mejias are going their separate ways, but they’ll reunite soon enough. 
That’s because they’ve all signed with National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schools that play each other. They’re part of a quartet of seniors who have played four years of varsity ball and played key roles in the Timberwolves’ 2017 and 2018 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title runs.

Bulletin softball 2020
Sierra infielder Lisette Mejias fires to first in a Valley Oak League game against visiting Manteca on March 29, 2019. - photo by Wayne Thallander

Lorge will remain in Northern California, as she is set to attend William Jessup University in Rocklin. The Warriors just so happen to be a Golden State Athletic Conference rival of San Diego Christian College in Santee, where second baseman Mejias is headed. Gardner won’t be far from Mejias in sunny SoCal — she’ll be playing for The University of Saint Katherine in San Marcos, an annual non-conference opponent of San Diego Christian.
“I have so many good memories and developed so many special relationships,” Mejias said of her time at Sierra, which included two years of playing experience with older sister Desiree. “It has been so much fun. Winning section titles my first two years, not a lot of people can say they did that. I’m just so lucky to be part of the Sierra softball team. I’m grateful to have some very experienced coaches.”
The 2019 All-Valley Oak League Defensive Team selection was offered a spot on the San Diego Christian roster by head coach Sarah Hershman-McGrath when the two caught up at a travel-ball showcase tournament. Mejias said the opportunity is too good to pass up.
At first I wanted to get out of state, but honestly I can’t be that far from home because I love my family,” she said. “San Diego is the perfect place because it’s not too close, not too far. The weather is perfect and it’s close to the beaches.”
Gardner is glad she’ll have friends nearby. She said Mejias is “like a sister” and they in fact share the same aspirations — they’re both majoring in kinesiology to become physical therapists.
Gardner, a returning All-VOL first-team third baseman, will have another familiar face in East Union senior Ariana Harris, who has also signed with Saint Katherine to play softball.
“We’ve been playing on the same travel team for quite some time now and we’re pretty close friends,” Gardner said. “I’m really excited to go to school with her.”
Bulletin softball 2020
Sierra catcher Samantha Lorge gets the force-out at the plate against Kiana Briseno and visiting Manteca on April 23, 2019. - photo by Wayne Thallander
Lorge knew early in the process that Jessup was the place for her. She had been committed for a year before officially signing.
“I loved the campus, it’s a small campus, and I got along with all the girls,” she said of her visit. “Coach Brie (Campbell) is pretty much the best college coach I came across and I am so excited to go there.”
Lorge is studying criminal justice or law. She’s a 2018 all-league first-team selection, and the power-hitting catcher served as the backstop for former Sierra standout Lindsey Walljasper for two seasons. Walljasper now pitches for Nebraska.
Sierra’s battle-tested senior class had high hopes to compete for another section crown. Shortstop Mia Guevara is the fourth member of Sierra’s “Fab Four” of four-year varsity players, and slugging senior first baseman Maya Muschott was also back for second-year coach Don Hughes. They were reinforced by two solid freshmen pitchers.
“It sucks we can’t have one more season but you can’t do anything about it,” Lorge said. “I’m still working hard. I’m turning it into a positive in my life and I’m pushing myself to be better for college.”