|Brad Clifford, athletic director at Yavapai College, sits with recent softball signees Torey Gillies, Angelina Saucedo and Bailey Mabery. VVN/Travis Guy|
|Bailey Mabery, Torey Gillies and Angelina Saucedo hold up a cake congratulating them on signing with the Yavapai College Roughriders softball team. VVN/Travis Guy|
At this point, most graduates already had an idea of what they would be doing now that they graduated college, but for three Mingus Union softball players, the opportunity arose for them to continue their education, while playing a game the trio spent their high school career doing together.
Angelina Saucedo, Bailey Mabery and Torey Gillies all signed letters of intent, on July 1, to go to Yavapai College and play on the softball team.
"It's an honor and I'm really excited, not only to go play at the next level, but to also get the opportunity to learn more from new coaches and girls who have played for different coaches and different teams," Mabery said. "Yavapai was my No. 1 school to try to get in to, so I'm excited about that."
The Marauders are part of a 10-player recruiting class for the Roughriders, who finished their past season 36-19 and made a sixth consecutive appearance in the post-season.
"I'm excited," Gillies said. "I'm excited to play at the next level also, but I'm also excited to play with different skill levels from each of the girls we will be playing with. It will be a lot different."
All of the girls are excited to be continuing their careers, and to help with the transition, have been a part of their former Mingus coach John Brown's summer team, the Verde Valley Heat, and have been able to speak with two former Roughriders.
Maria Micheli, who played for Yavapai during the 2012-13 season, will be transferring to BYU-Hawaii, but has been playing on the Heat during the summer. Also, Miranda Tapia, a Mingus and Heat assistant, went to Yavapai and played for the softball team as well. The soon-to-be Roughriders have been picking the brains of their teammate and coach, which has helped with the move.
"She (Micheli) gives us a lot of advice, so we're going there with a little something instead of," Saucedo said.
"We know what to expect now, she gives us expectations and she helps us out a lot," Gillies jumped I and added.
Before Brown came to be the head coach at Mingus, he spent a fall season helping the softball team, and because of that and his daughter (Tapia) playing there, he was able to get an introduction and the girls did the rest.
"It was an easy door opening, and then they have to perform," Brown said. "We get the tryout and they have to perform, they (Yavapai College) liked what they saw, so they offered them."
One factor that also benefited the girls was that YC had lost a few commitments. Typically, the summer before the semester begins, schools have filled their athletic-scholarships and are not looking to add more players. But sometimes the student-athletes are not able to fulfill their letter-of-intent for one reason or another, which created the opportunity for the three Marauders to sign with the Roughriders.
"In their situation, being seniors, most recruiting happens between your junior and senior year, and so they were really behind the gun," Brown said. "You get that lull in recruiting where kids that committed can't come, or kids get injured, or something happens, and those coaches are looking to fill those voids, so it was a great opportunity for them to fall into that and it worked out for everybody."
A benefit of the trio going to YC is that the campus is not too far away, which Mabery anticipating lots of car-pooling to the home games.
"It's exciting for our parents too, and everybody that's coached us, to see us get to go together," Mabery said. "There will be lots of carpool groups."
Saucedo is joining a bullpen with two pitchers and one more incoming pitcher, so she will be fighting for a starting job while also spending some time in the outfield, according to a Roughriders press release. Mabery will be working for a spot in the outfield and Gillies could earn the starting first base position, or even play at second base.
"It's a great opportunity. I'm really excited to go play at the next level," Saucedo said.
Academically, Saucedo is hoping to pursue a degree in nursing, Gillies in the dental field and Mabery in business.
"I'm extremely happy for them, I'm proud of them," Brown said. "They all said they wanted it and they actually pushed to the point where they got it, and I'm pushing them now to make sure they make the best of it. I'm proud of them, but I'm not done with them."