Two sisters bond through their love of softball

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Two sisters bond through their love of softball

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As a pitch is being delivered, Kattya gets in the ready position and inches closer toward the infield as she anticipates the swing.

Karla takes her position in the infield and gets her body ready for anything hit her way. She stays low with bent knees and her head up.

The pitch is smacked into the outfield by a Grossmont College batter. The ball heads towards left center field. Kattya Calderon, who prefers to go by Kat, tracks down the ball, races to her left and makes the catch on the run to get the out.

The crowd gasps as Kat watches the ball hit her glove. She reacts to the ball and lets her eyes guide her body to make a highlight reel catch in the outfield.

You often hear people say your team is like a group of sisters but many can’t relate to actually having theirs by their side, Karla Calderon says.

Kat and Karla have been playing together for so long that they often communicate on the field without having to talk to each other.

Before every softball game, the sisters do a pregame handshake that symbolizes their relationship. At the end of the handshake, they interlock fingers which reminds them to “get it done on the field” and “play as one.”

The Calderon sisters are teammates on the 2017 South Coast Conference-South division champions in the El Camino softball team. El Camino is the first team to go unbeaten in conference play since Mount San Antonio College in 2013 and the ninth in conference history to do so.

“Every game this season, someone different has stepped up to play a huge role,” Kat, who finished the season batting .301 with 23 runs scored, says. “I’m very excited to see how far we can go in the playoffs.”

On the field, the sisters are each others biggest fans, but also each others biggest critic. When Karla smashes a ball over an outfielder’s head, Kat is the first one jumping up and down with excitement, yelling, “that’s my sister.”

“If Karla messes up, Kat is the first one to call her on it,” freshman outfielder Jazmyn Sancen says. “They push each other to be better.”

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Karla, 19, had a solid freshman season, batting .286 with eight RBIs, 20 runs scored and six stolen bases.The 5-foot-2 brunette second baseman is small in stature but big in personality.

When Karla is not on the field or in class, she enjoys long boarding, going to the beach, traveling and playing basketball. In addition to softball, Karla played basketball at Ripon High School in Ripon, California.

Kat began playing softball at 7 years old while Karla started playing at 9. Growing up, they both played various sports including soccer, volleyball and basketball but they fell in love with softball.

The athletic siblings were born in Long Beach, California but when Kat was in third grade, they moved to Ripon, a small town in Northern California. Their mom Cynthia Rios wanted a fresh start after her divorce so she moved the girls up north.

“Ripon is a nice, quiet town but SoCal is home,” Kat says, “We wanted to play softball at a college down here for the competition.”

During Kat’s senior year at Ripon HS, the softball team won a league title but fell short at the Sectional Championships.

Karla got redemption the following year as they beat Linden High School, 7-6, in walk-off fashion to win its first Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championship.

Although it was done without Kat, winning a championship is something they talked and dreamed about ever since they started high school.

“When I finally got to hold the banner with my team, it was a moment I can’t explain,” Karla says. “We worked hard all season for this.”

Karla is a competitive person and when she realized the competition aspect of playing softball, she knew it was her sport. She recalled memories of her softball days as a kid.

“Game days for me were truly about seeing my friends,” Karla says. “I remember asking my mom to take me immediately to the field because there was nothing else I would rather do.”

Kat fell in love with softball when she would get excited to wake up at 5 a.m. to go to a tournament. A lean 5-feet-3 outfielder with long flowing hair, Kat says being along side her sister in college is a dream come true.

“Practices and games with my sister by my side were the best,” Karla says. “It’s a feeling you can’t describe.”

The sisters first year playing softball was actually on different teams but as the years went on, they played together on many teams. They played on one recreational team together, two different travel teams and three years on the same high school team.

The bond the sisters have is unbreakable. Ever since they started playing softball, Kat has dreamed of playing alongside Karla in college.

Both sisters hope to transfer and continue to play softball at the next level together. Kat plans to attend California State University San Marcos and would love nothing more than to play with her sister at San Marcos.

Kat and Karla helped each other become better players with their competitive nature while always wanting to outshine one another.

“She’s my best friend,” Karla said. “When I’m having a bad practice or game, she always knows the right thing to say to brighten my mood and help me stay positive.”

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