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COC softball: Getting to home

Cougar Alexis Caso learned lessons in LIU that are helping at COC

Posted: March 17, 2010 10:37 p.m.
Updated: March 18, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Hart grad Alexis Caso spent a season with Long Island University's softball program before transferring to College of the Canyons, where she became a big part of COC's lineup.

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The allure of playing NCAA Division I athletics is a dream for many senior athletes.

The opportunity isn’t there for everyone.

But it was for 2008 Hart High graduate Alexis Caso.

It just came a bit too soon.

After a year spent playing softball at Long Island University, Caso is back in the Santa Clarita Valley at College of the Canyons.

Coming home helped her regain confidence and a chance to pass along experiences learned in pursuit of her dreams.

Things imparted on her during a freshman season that taught myriad valuable lessons, Caso says.

 “I didn’t even know how to do laundry before I went over there,” she says, of her freshman year with the Blackbirds. “To go from the suburbs of Valencia to Brooklyn, it was a major thing for me.”

And without her family close by, things quickly became lonely.

By the end of her first semester, Caso had already decided that her first year at Long Island would be her last.

“I have a very emotional family, and I couldn’t share what was going on,” she says. “That was the biggest thing for me. I wasn’t as happy as I could have been, because I didn’t have my dad watching me or giving me advice after, or my mom there. My biggest fans weren’t around.”

Despite early on-field success, Caso began to struggle.

And playing against top competition such as Michigan and eventual national champion Washington, there wasn’t time for a downturn at the plate.

A snowball effect stemming from her negativity ensued, she says.

“I got some hits off Michigan and got on against Washington and was doing well,” Caso says. “But then I let the attitude of me not being completely happy because I couldn’t share it all with my family really get to me. That kind of brought me down in a way, which I’ve dealt with now, and kind of know that my attitude has to be better the next round.”

She hit .114 for the Blackbirds with three stolen bases, while serving primarily as a baserunner.

“A lot of these kids move on and they are probably not quite ready to move, and (playing at COC) is a great stepping stone in the right direction,” says Cougars head coach John Wissmath. “I think this a great opportunity for these young athletes that are pretty darn good that aren’t really sure about leaving.”

Her team role has greatly broadened as a Cougar this season.

She has also joined former Hart teammate Jessica Fridwall as team captain.

“I think she has really come a long way,” Fridwall says. “I think the skills that she learned over there have really come into play at COC.”

And as a team leader, Caso is blossoming.

“She is more outspoken now and she feels more comfortable,” Fridwall says. “I think before maybe she wanted to say some things, but now she doesn’t have a problem saying the things she feels.”

Caso is closer to the high school form at the plate that garnered Long Island’s attention in her senior year with Hart.

Currently, she is batting .280 with two home runs, 13 RBIs, 17 runs scored and four stolen bases.

She has been given a chance to restart her collegiate career and help others achieve their own.

“When I found out she was coming back, I got really excited,” says sophomore pitcher Ashley Imperial, who’s also a four-year prospect. “I was like, ‘Look, we have someone to show us the ropes for a Division-I program.’”

The same goes for fellow COC sophomore Melissa Herndon.

“I think she is a really good role model and leader in general,” Herndon says. “She says what she needs to say, and she picks the team up. I would say we all look up to her because she leads by example. She knows exactly what she needs to do and where she needs to be. We try to follow in her footsteps.”

Caso’ leadership on the field has seen more immediate effect, highlighted by solo home runs in each game of doubleheader with Citrus College on March 9.

“I think she is going to explode soon and start to dominate our conference,” Herndon says. “She is a really good hitter and she sees the outside pitch really well.”

But more than her individual success, Caso is excited about the team’s improved chemistry.

“We are starting to really come together as a team,” she says. “The last couple of games, I’ve felt this camaraderie that we haven’t had before. That’s what’s really exciting.”

Caso hopes to play in the Division-I ranks again next season.

She credits the Cougar experience as a big reason for making that goal attainable once again.

“Here, there is a great environment for sports,” Caso says. “It’s even like a D-I. That’s how they treat it here, and that’s what is going to make my transition easier. Even coming from a D-I to coming here and going back out, the transition is going to be smooth.”

Her strength and conditioning has improved, as has her presence at the plate.

But most importantly, so has her frame of mind.

“My attitude has changed so much,” she says. “My confidence is back up, probably because of the coaches and coaching staff. We’ve work so much with my game that my confidence is just there right now.”

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