By Cameron Winston
Riverside City College has had a challenging yet electrifying softball season this semester and two of the team’s most prominent players have stood out amongst the pack.
Tigers catcher Aeriel Carlson has had an impressive freshman season with a batting average of .322, while hitting a league-best seven home runs, and contributing to 25 runs batted in.
Sophomore pitcher and infielder Emily Wilcox, has created an equally impactful presence this season with a phenomenal batting average of .485, which is the Orange Empire’s Conference second best, while adding 16 runs batted in. Wilcox also presents a threat on the mound with 18 strikeouts to her resume.
Their leadership has helped the Tigers stay competitive in a struggling season with a 12-14 record so far.
Carlson has seen many high points early in her career having been named CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Offensive MVP during her freshmen year of high school at Citrus Valley while helping her team reach the finals back in 2011. She later secured a CIF championship in her junior season. A successful high school career earned Carlson a scholarship offer from Utah Valley University. However, a dreadful car accident her senior year would revoke that opportunity. That incident, however, did not diminish her passion or spirit for the game that she has been playing since she was four years old.
“I have put 14 years of my life for this sport, so obviously, I’m very passionate about it, and that’s what keeps me coming out here every day.” Carlson said, “Most of the time this is my sanctuary, you get out your stress, you get with your teammates, so all of this brings great memories and fun. This is just a great sport to play that teaches you a lot.”
Wilcox comes from a background of athletes as the majority of her family have played sports in high school and college. This played a role in her enrollment to Riverside City College as her sister had played for RCC years ago. Riverside was not her first choice until coach Michelle Daddona influenced her to reconsider and attend. One of the things Emily has learned since becoming a Tiger has been the accountability and responsibility one can have, and the bond of sisterhood amongst her and her teammates.
As Wilcox’s last season with the team winds down, she reflects on her hopes for this season and says, “I want to make the memories last … I hope to make the season fun and let it be something to remember not just for me, but for everyone … and to make my family proud, and show them I worked my hardest to get to this point.
Both players share the same view of what the difficulties they have encountered for this season have been. They both say that the feeling of beating a team by mercy rule, and then right after receiving the same treatment really affects the mentality of a player to try and turn it around and move on to the next game. “That is one of the cool factors about this sport because it doesn’t matter how good you are, there is always going to be someone that can get you if you’re not expecting it.” said Wilcox.
The Tigers had just experienced being mercy ruled, meaning a team has scored 10 or more runs through five innings, and will automatically end the game at that moment with no chance to comeback. On March 24 against Cypress College, the Tigers were forced to mercy rule in a 10-0 defeat. Despite this unpleasant setback, the Tigers looked ahead to what still has the potential be a prosperous season.
In addition to shared talents, both athletes have a desire to pursue careers in the medical field. Wilcox will look to focus more on her education in hopes to become a registered nurse after her softball days have concluded. Carlson on the other hand hopes to become a veterinarian, but intends to continue her softball career.
“As an athlete, your most memorable moment is within your sport and with these two it seems they are making the most of every opportunity with their bond, passion, and commitment to their coaches and teammates. Carlson said, “I say if I am not having fun and I’m not loving it any more then that’s the day that I stop. If I don’t come out here and this isn’t the best part of my day, then I shouldn’t be out here.”