Grizzly wins Gatorade Player of the Year award
Jul 01, 2020 02:20PM
By Greg James
The Utah Gatorade Softball Player of the Year award for the 2020 season went to Makaiya (MK) Gomez from Copper Hills High School.
“She is a once-in-a-lifetime player,” Copper Hills head softball coach John Flores said. “She has been a leader of this team from the day I started coaching here.”
The 5-foot-9-inch graduated senior was a three-time All-State selection and in the abbreviated 2020 season she batted .632 and had 11 runs batted in and had two home runs. The outfielder has signed to continue her softball career at the University of Utah.
“She came to our camps year after year,” Utah head coach Amy Hogue said in a news release about her new recruit. “She is gritty and does not back down to a challenge.”
She will be a player sorely missed by her Copper Hills teammates. In 2019, she led the team in doubles, triples and home runs.
“She has been one of our biggest leaders,” Flores said. “She is very humble and a hard worker. She certainly leads by example and loves to play the game. If we need a hit, big play on defense or just someone to run a camp or clinic, she can do it. Her knowledge of the game is just so elevated, and she has the drive and aspirations to achieve great things. She makes the younger girls want to gravitate to her.”
Gomez and fellow senior Alyxx Estrada volunteered to begin umpiring softball games for the county. Their experience gave them a connection to younger girls helping encourage them to learn the game.
“Sometimes the younger girls were able to come to our games, camps and clinics,” Flores said. “Then they start to say Copper Hills is where I am going to go to school. They see what our program is about and become part of the Copper Hills family.”
Copper Hills began its 2020 season in Laughlin, Nevada. The Grizzlies won six of the eight games they were able to play before the season was suspended and later canceled. In its only game against a Utah team, Copper Hills beat Fremont 15-5 after a 10-run first inning. Maddison Jennings was the winning pitcher.
Besides Gomez, three other seniors finished their Grizzly careers this season: Estrada, Samantha Santos and Lainee Miller. They were disappointed they did not have an opportunity to improve on last season's playoff run. In 2019, they finished third after a semifinals loss to Layton.
“We were able to play more than most of the teams,” Flores said. “The girls started out really strong. We just fell short last season, and they came back wanting to finish it this year.”
The Grizzlies waited as the season was suspended in March, but Utah High School Activities Association officials later canceled it.
“It was disappointing, but the girls stayed upbeat and helped each other,” Flores said. “Most of our girls are playing competitive summer ball now. We thought we might get the Jordan Cup there at the end. The girls were excited, but when it was taken away, they were OK. Our underclassmen are vying to come back stronger and better for the seniors that did not get a proper send-off.”