From the Plate to the Podium
Softball Player Turned
Prez Gets Vocal
Natalie Batista glides into the Gator Athletics Awards Banquet. Tonight
the left fielder has exchanged her SFSU women's softball uniform and
cleats for a black dress and heels. Her hair is pulled into a dramatic
upsweep. It's her last moment with her teammates and in similar fashion
to her performances on the field this semester, Batista intends to make
the most of it.
"Whenever there's an audience, I want to give them a good show,"
says Batista, a political science and theater arts major who enjoys writing
in her journal, reading Moliere, and throwing runners out at home.
Batista ended her final season with a team-high batting average of .378
and led the Gators in hits (65), runs scored (30), doubles (12), and
home runs (9). Off the field, she pursued her passion for theater with
small roles in several campus plays. She received the Athletics Department's
coveted Arete Award and shared most valuable player honors with teammates
Erica Tianco and Sonja Garnett.
"Natalie is, without question, the most unique student/athlete
I have had the opportunity to coach. She has an incredible amount of
energy that transfers to her teammates," says Coach Kristi Lansford,
who explains that Batista kept her teammates motivated with raps and
songs she's written for each player. Lansford says she'll never forget
the time Batista started rapping the praises of one of her teammates
during a game. "The pitcher stepped off the mound, the batter out
of the box, and the umpire removed his mask," she recalls. "Both
teams stood in silence until she was finished. That's how Natalie is.
She captures attention in every situation."
At an early age, the Chino, Calif., native discovered she was comfortable
with a bat in her hands. "I was always breaking our neighbors'
windows," remembers Batista, who honed her skills in the local
Little Miss Softball League. She credits her family with supporting
her athletic dreams, even during difficult times.
After the family's dairy farm went bankrupt, Batista's father worked
long hours to get a new landscaping business up and running to support
his wife and children. The teenaged Batista helped her mother raise
her five younger brothers and sisters. "I had to grow up fast,"
she says. Batista wanted to get a part-time job to help out, but her
father put his foot down.
"He always told me that I had the rest of my life to work,"
Batista remembers. "He told me to concentrate on playing ball -- to
think of that as my career."
Since transferring from Chaffey College in Southern California to SFSU
three years ago, her name has landed on the Dean's List and the Gator
Athletics Department Honor Roll every semester.
This fall Batista will return to complete her degree. After four years
of college softball, she is no longer eligible to play. She says she'll
miss it, but there won't be much time to dwell on her past as captain
of the team. Batista is already immersed in a new position as the newly
elected president of the SFSU student government association.
"I want Associated Students 2003-2004 to be remembered for
listening and support," she says. "My door will always be
open to hear anyone's ideas."
Some issues, however, will take priority.
Last year Batista and her teammates watched their softball field disappear
beneath classroom trailers strategically placed to use the electrical
power of nearby Hensill Hall.
The team was forced to practice nearly 10 miles south of campus in Brisbane.
Today the trailers are still sitting on their field.
Batista says she wants to make sure that next year's team gets a new
place to practice on campus.
"That's my first order of business," she says. Batista is
likely to put on a big performance -- perhaps with a song or a rap -- to
see that her field of dreams becomes a reality.