Whether it's softball or baseball, Judith Alvarado just wants to play at a high level.
With U.S. Grant's softball team not meeting her standards, though, Alvarado decided to join the baseball team last year as a manager.
But a few weeks later she became a starter on the team, turning heads with her arm strength and defensive skills, while also remaining an example of perseverance for her teammates through this season's struggles.
“I don't regret it one bit,” she said. “It's a lot better than playing softball for the inner-city schools.”
Alvarado picked up softball when she was 9 with the help of her older brother Guillermo, who played baseball at Douglass.
He helped coach her on competitive-league teams until she was 16, also providing the financial means to play.
“I was just trying to be the family member that was there for her because I was always kind of the kid that didn't ever really have family show up at the games,” he said. “My parents would show up every so often.
“I wanted her to have somebody there to watch her and see her play, and I think she enjoyed that.”
But not even he could envision her playing on a high-school baseball diamond.
Judith Alvarado was encouraged to join the team on the field last season after playing a simple game of catch in practice. She initially started in the outfield, only to move to second base after she injured her throwing arm.
It was at second she turned heads playing at Broken Arrow when she backhanded a ground ball up the middle and made the throw to first for the out.
“Even Broken Arrow's fans cheered,” she said.
She's primarily back in the outfield this season, where a recent high-ankle sprain has hampered her, but overall she has been solid defensively.
“She's been awesome,” first-year U.S. Grant coach Jason McQuerry said. “If it's catchable, she is going to catch it.”
And while she has been dealing with some nagging injuries that have limited her playing time as of late, she has also struggled mightily at the plate with just one hit in 29 at-bats, one RBI, a .034 batting average and a .276 on-base percentage.
The struggles have worn on her, too.
“Makes me feel kind of weak knowing that I haven't had a hit all season, and then when I get up to the plate that comes back to mind,” she said.
But the Generals are struggling in general with a 9-17 record and 0-14 district record.
Still, teammates such as U.S. Grant senior Mario Arroyo remain impressed with Alvarado.
Arroyo initially encouraged Alvarado to join the team. And despite her struggles, she has served as an example to her male teammates for remaining on the field.
“That shows that she's fighting and wanting to achieve more,” Arroyo said.
This serves as just another challenge met for Alvarado, who will graduate second in her class this year before heading to the University of Oklahoma where she plans on majoring in business.
“It was just a great experience, something that was put in my path that I didn't know was coming,” she said. “Kind of like a milestone for my softball career if I don't play in college, which I hope I do.”