HANFORD — Hanford West’s Macie Figueroa realized a longtime dream on Wednesday.
The 17-year-old softball center fielder accepted her scholarship and signed her National Letter of Intent to Menlo College at Norman Boyles Field with family and friends in attendance.
“It’s honestly like one of the best feelings in the world,” Macie said. “You’ve worked your whole life going towards this. All your time and energy, it’s not going to waste.”
Last season, the Menlo College softball team went 15-9 before COVID-19 ended their season. The Oaks were off to one of their best starts in team history, including a 4-1 showing at the TCS SoCal NAIA College Classic.
“Menlo feels like the perfect place for me and I want to say there’s been many nights I cried because I was so happy,” Macie said. “It’s definitely a great feeling.”
Menlo College is a private college located in Atherton with just under 800 undergraduates. She cited the campus’ proximity to home and the small nature of the school as deciding factors. She also attended a camp in January where she got practice with the team and meet an assistant coach.
“I’m looking forward to just playing with a new team, getting experiences,” Macie said. “It’s definitely a different intensity for sure.”
It was a tournament in Utah which sealed the deal with Menlo College. It was July 16 and Macie was playing for the first time since March. A Menlo College assistant coach happened to be watching the same game.
After taking a ball in her first at-bat, Macie homered on the very next pitch.
“As soon as she did that, the phone was off the hook,” Ray Figueroa, Macie’s dad, said. “It was like, ‘We want her,’ after that hit.”
The tournament was the only opportunity Macie got to play, so Ray said it was “well worth the trip.” And with COVID-19 rules restricting parents to the outfield, he even got to retrieve Macie’s home run ball after it sailed over his head.
According to MaxPreps, Macie, who’s been on varsity since her freshman year, batted .333 with seven runs, two doubles and a triple in nine games last season. She was a co-captain and said she’s hoping to improve and do even better in 2021.
But if a season doesn’t materialize, Macie is happy she has another opportunity at the next level.
“I’m just excited to continue playing,” Figueroa said. “Most people, after high school they’re done. I’m excited to just ball out with new girls. … I’m just excited to get back on the field.”
Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.
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