One of the top infielders in the senior class, Sophia Medellin has had a recruiting tale that is both every athlete’s dream… and every prospect’s nightmare.
A member of the 2019 Extra Elite 100, the outstanding hitter and talented third baseman for the highly-successful So Cal Choppers had been a commit to Stanford since her second year in 14U ball, but just weeks before the November 14th Signing Period arrived, Sophia learned that she wouldn’t be able to play for the Cardinal after all.
The So Cal player had just a few weekends to start over in the recruiting process and to impress college coaches, but she didn’t mope or mourn; instead she got busy in contacting schools who might be interested and showing them what she could do on the field.
The experience led Sophia to say: “Despite all that has happened these past two months, I must say I am extremely happy with the way everything has turned out. I feel my story has a happy and positive ending."
Here, in her own words, is Sophia’s account of how her journey to play collegiate softball took a sudden and dramatic turn, but ended up being a “blessing in disguise” as she would ultimately sign with another Pac-12 school...
I started playing softball at the age of eight after my uncle signed me up.
Prior to then, I played tee-ball with a bunch of little boys and my uncle suggested I play in an all-girls softball league. After my first year playing at William S. Hart park, I made it to the All-Star 8U Gold team, and the following year I made the All-Star 10U Gold team.
Shortly after that summer, a couple of my coaches got together and formed the first-ever 10U Choppers team. Although I was still very active in basketball at the time, I knew in my heart I would go far in the softball world.
I continued to be a Chopper and it now marks seven years!
It was the summer after 8th grade when my coach told me Stanford was showing interest in me.
Immediately I hopped on that and started pursuing the school. At that point, since I was so young, all I knew was that I wanted to be part of the Pac-12 although I loved UCLA and Cal Berkeley growing up.
I was invited to a Cardinal camp that fall where I met the Stanford head coach, Rachel Hanson. She continued showing interest in me and let me know that she would continue to watch me my freshman year.
From there on out the process progressed significantly to the point where I verbally committed right after the IDT Colorado tournament in the summer of 2016.
Of course, I was told to maintain my softball competence and my high GPA, which is what I did.
I had done everything I was asked to do which made me comfortable with the position I was in during the time. But then, suddenly in July of 2017, there was no more Rachel Hanson at Stanford.
Jessica Allister had taken over which, of course, worried me a little bit; until I did my research on her, I didn’t know what she was like, what she expected, or anything about her. I told myself not to stress about it as I was sure everything would fall back into place.
Turns out, I was right… for the most part.
I remember the coaches would come to a lot of my games where I hit home runs and played my best so I knew I was in a solid spot in their eyes.
After reaching out and consistently touching base with Coach Allister I had my spot back. I continued succeeding in the classroom and on the field until finally I had my official visit scheduled.
It was the night of October 26, 2018 at my high school homecoming game, however, when I got the call that would change my recruiting path.
Unfortunately, due to certain unforeseen circumstances, things had changed: my opportunity and future at Stanford was gone.
I had been verbally committed to Stanford for three years so, of course, I was devastated but after much talk with my family and coaches I felt confident that I would find a new home since I was already in a good place considering I had the grades and the SAT score good enough for Stanford.
This gave me two weekends to show college coaches what I had in me and what kind of player I was. Coach Allister and Stanford Assistant Coach Jessica Merchant assisted me by contacting many schools including Ivy League and Big Ten schools.
I went on a couple visits, one to Purdue and one to Penn, and enjoyed the experiences very much at both universities to the point where I could even see myself at either school.
Being far away from home at first made me hesitant, but I realized it wouldn’t be bad at all knowing they had amazing coaching staffs.
Once I found out Cal Berkeley was interested in me, however, my uncle and I scheduled a visit since I had never seen the campus before. Before too long, I fell in love with every piece of it and could totally picture myself walking those sidewalks.
We ended up meeting with Associate Head Coach Tammy Lohman and Head Coach Diane Ninemire during the day and I received an offer. After calling my mom on the phone and discussing it with her we made the decision to commit to Cal.
Later that evening, I called Coach Ninemire and told her I would love to be a Golden Bear!
I was back on track and life was good.
Looking back on everything that’s happened to me, I see my recruiting journey as a blessing in disguise.
I got to visit new places where I formed special connections, spoke with coaches I’ve always wanted to talk to and, most importantly, learned a very important life lesson from all of this.
This overall made me feel more like a ball player as it made me realize nothing is ever set in stone until it is and made me find out that I was capable of being far more than I ever thought possible!
--- Sophia Medellin, Class of 2019 and future Cal Bear