MASON KERN/ Sports Editor
From the young age of seven, senior Samantha Needham knew that she wanted to be a softball player. She entered competitive league play at just 11 years old for TNL Athletics, and has not looked back since.
Her noteworthy career has led Needham to maintain a varsity starting spot as both an outfielder and first baseman for all four years of high school. When she was just starting high school as a freshman, Needham went to the varsity softball tryouts with understandable trepidation, unsure how the leap of faith would unfold. It is hard for a freshman to muster up the confidence to appear at a varsity level tryout in the first place, let alone with coaches and an organization at large that is unfamiliar with the player, or their track record.
Having hailed from the Mira Mesa softball program, Titans softball coaches were entirely unfamiliar with Needham prior to the tryout. However, her ability shone through and she successfully made the varsity team as a freshman, and continued to maintain that spot all four years of high school.
“It was nerve-racking at first because none of the coaches knew me, and being a freshman at my first varsity tryout… it was a scary thing,” Needham admits.
In her four year tenure with the team, she has been involved in an accumulated record of 68-25, including the team’s most recent 6-2 victory against San Pasqual High School.
In her game against Santana, in which the team won 6-1, Needham hit a homerun that scored two runs for the team. It was her first homerun since her freshman year.
Other highlights of her high school career include winning an Open Division CIF championship in the 2015 campaign, as well as the team making an appearance in the Open Division Championship the following year. Unfortunately they came just short in the final innings.
“I’m really grateful to have experienced so much success in such a great program,” Needham said. “I think the new talent will step up and we’ll have another great season this year.”
As with all high school sports, athletes come and go. As a result, teams need to compensate for yearly losses by adding new players developed from the junior varsity level, or in Needham’s case, those underclassman ready to jump straight to varsity.
As a payoff for her hard work and dedication, Needham has since committed to Santa Clara University where she will continue to play softball for the Lady Broncos, as well as pursue a career in the field of broadcast journalism.by