Beyond the game: Ariel Ortiz, freshman shortstop

Sports Reporter

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Ariel Ortiz, freshman shortstop, began her softball career on a baseball diamond. 

Richards Field in Waxahachie, named after Major League Baseball manager Paul Richards, was Ortiz’ home away from home.

The future Bobcat spent hours honing her craft at the 100-year-old ballpark each day after her older brother, Chris, was finished with practice. 

Ortiz spent those hours on the field with her father, Eloy, and brother.

“We’re a big baseball family,” said April Ortiz, her mother. “She’s been dragged from field to field since she could walk. When her older brother and his team would finish practicing, my husband would pitch balls to her so she could hit, and her brother and his friends would have to stay around and catch her balls.”

Ariel enjoyed watching Chris play and spending countless hours practicing with her father and developing as a player.

“I always wanted to be out there with the boys,” Ariel said. “I started in baseball. We really didn’t know about softball till after coach-pitch, so baseball is what I grew up with.”

Ariel has three home runs and 11 runs batted in her first season with Texas State.

She regrets not listening to her father more as a child.

“My dad would always tell me things when I was younger, and it would end up being the same things one of my coaches would tell me,” Ariel said. “But just because he was my dad, I wouldn’t really take it from him. I was real stubborn. I wish I would have listened to him more and not just my coaches.”

Ariel does not feel like she has accomplished anything special despite the awards and recognitions accumulated during her time in Waxahachie. 

“You have failure all the time in this game,” Ariel said. “When you do have success, it’s just as great as before, but you have to take it with a grain of salt and go on to the next pitch.”

Ariel’s former coach, Tracy Beard, said he is not surprised by Ariel’s start. Beard coached her on the Texas Glory Gold Shelton travel team. 

“Ariel has played the game at its highest level since she was 10 years old,” Beard said. “She has played in some big games, performed well under high pressure situations, and she has proven to be a great leader by her steadfast attitude and performance on the field.”

Beard attributed Ariel’s success to one thing in particular—discipline.

“Discipline to respect others, discipline to make good decisions, discipline in the classroom, discipline to be punctual, discipline to take care of her body and her spirit,” Beard said. “These attributes allow her to be a good person, friend, teammate, and a great leader.”

Madison Yannetti, Ortiz’s best friend throughout travel ball and Arkansas Razorbacks infielder, said Ariel’s humility distinguishes her from other players.

“She is such a good athlete,” Yannetti said. “I think she realizes it, but you never hear her brag about it or talk herself up.”

Life at Texas State has treated Ariel well, but she misses home every now and then. She returns home as often as possible.

Her mother said seeing her only daughter leave home was difficult. However, the fact she is a three-hour drive away makes it easier. 

Ariel said San Marcos reminds her of Waxahachie. It is not too small, but it is also not too big. 

“I love it down here,” Ariel said. “It’s kind of like home. Down by the softball field where the train tracks go behind the field, that’s how Richards Park is back home, so it always takes me back to when I used to watch my brother play.”

Ariel has contemplated life after her playing days are over even though she is a freshman. 

“When I’m done I want to do something else with my life,” Ariel said. “I’ve done softball my whole life, and I’ve known the game for a while, but I want to do something new.”

Ariel wants to make a lasting impression on the softball program.

“I want to be remembered as someone who could overcome whatever that obstacle may be,” Ariel said. “I want to be thought of as someone who worked hard and as someone who was the best at whatever my role was asked to be on this team.”

Follow Christian Rodriguez on Twitter @crod9521