LEMOORE — Sierra Phelps called the process “surreal” and “last minute” when it came to committing at the next level, but the Tiger, who was unsure of even continuing to play softball, found herself a home with San Diego State University.
“It was unforgettable and it was nice seeing my friends and family there to support you,” Phelps said about her signing day on May 14.
The senior signed her National Letter of Intent at the district office in Lemoore surrounded by her coaches, teammates and family. The signing was a huge accomplishment for Phelps, who admitted that somewhere along the way she lost her passion for softball. But with the help of Lemoore softball coach Dionne Ewing she was able to rekindle that joy and excitement again.
“Me and coach Dionne had a conversation and it was very deep I guess you could say,” Phelps said. “I just got a fire underneath me and I started enjoying it again.”
What followed between the two was a raw conversation. Ewing said she needed to get through to Phelps because she was no longer enjoying softball and actually hated the sport.
“I sat her down and I just got as real as I could be with her,” Ewing said. “I told her I need an honest conversation from you and I need the most honest answers you can give me and I’m going to ask you some pretty tough questions.”
The two discussed if she wanted to continue playing softball, the issues that were bothering her and more. It took a couple of games, but Ewing said she started to see the change that she wanted from Phelps and then became fully convinced when the team went to play at the Tulare Classic Tournament.
“She made some plays at that tournament that were just absolutely unbelievable,” Ewing said. “And then to listen to her encourage her teammates and to lift her team up and the team did exactly that. … As she played and she got stronger and she got more confident, the team went right behind her. That was the turn in our team this season.”
Ewing recommended SDSU as a good fit for Phelps and after she did her own research, she decided to take a visit on May 5. Phelps got to watch SDSU take on Fresno State during their Senior Nigh and even got to go on the field.
“Right when I stepped foot on that field and met everybody and the coaches I knew it,” Phelps said. “Just by seeing everybody’s connection on the field and how they practice together in warmups and just overall how happy they were to be out there it really was like an eye-opener to this is actually a great program and it’s amazing and shocking that they actually want me, so it’s a good experience and I would love to go there.”
The Aztecs are getting a good one in Phelps. She had career highs in batting average (.461), hits (35) and RBIs (21) in her final season. She can play both the outfield (RF) and infield (SS) as she demonstrated this season and excelled in both areas with a .951 fielding percentage.
Phelps will be joining a talented group that had four players earn All-Mountain West honors this season and went 25-26 overall and 12-12 in conference play.
“It’s actually crazy to be a part of that,” Phelps said. “I hope I can learn from them and maybe even give them a little bit of what I got and to show them that I’m here to play and here to learn.”
While at SDSU, Phelps plans on majoring in criminal justice. She’s also excited for the new coaching experience and getting to travel to different places.
As to why she began to lose her passion in the first place, that question still remains unanswered.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” Phelps said. “It just came out of nowhere.”
The good thing is she’ll get another chance to play the game she loves and compete at the Division I level.
“[Ewing] always knew that I was capable of going farther than high school to play softball, but I never really knew it myself,” Phelps said. “I finally broke out of my comfort zone and she always knew I could go there, so she helped me break out of my shell and just be confident. … She guided me to just be free and just play the game.”