From rookie to four year starter, the times have changed for Ayanna Arceneaux at Emerald Ridge softball.
Even Arceneaux has changed from that quiet kid in the outfield years ago, to the ascertain leader she is today, Arceneaux has grown up through Jaguar softball.
“Since my freshman year, they have been four freshman playing, and now we have a lot of young players,” Arceneaux said, who will return to her familiar roles at the top of the batting order, and in the middle of the Jaguars infield.
Seeing the way she (Meagan Hendrix) worked every day helped me work harder.
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Now more than even, Emerald Ridge softball will rely on their Western Oregon signee as they face a difficult season in the 4A South Puget Sound League South Division.
Four years ago, Emerald Ridge had a lot of expectations when Arceneaux entered the 2013 softball scene. Not a lot was expected of her — not when the team was backed by Portland State pitcher Meagan Hendrix.
With an ace, there not a lot expected of a player.
“With someone like Meagan pitching, we really have to do all that much,” Arceneaux said of Hendrix senior season where the former Jaguar went 22-2 with 304 strikeouts in 164 innings pitched. “When the ball was hit at us, we just made sure we caught the ball.”
That was the only season Arceneaux played with Hendrix at Emerald Ridge, but that lone season together has left an indelible mark on Emerald Ridge’s current star.
“Seeing the way she (Hendrix) worked every day helped me work harder,” Arceneaux said.
Three season later, its Arceneaux turn to take the lead.
Just from first looking at her play those first days of tryouts, right away I knew she would be someone who would take that leadership role.
Emerald Ridge coach Amber Coburn
Emerald Ridge softball is in a bit of a flux this season, and more than ever, it will be the seniors led by Arceneaux to guide the Jaguars through a tough city (Puyallup and Rogers) challenge as well as the always difficult SPSL South.
Even still, Arceneaux has faith in the Jaguars to get through it.
“It’s a young team, and its fun that it’s a young team, because us seniors, we get to help (them) set goals like we did when we were freshman,” Arcreneaux said.
Especially now with a young ball club expected to feature freshman and sophmores, while becoming familiar with a new coach.
It’s a lot to thrust on anyone’s shoulders.
“Just from first looking at her play those first days of tryouts, right away I knew she would be someone who would take that leadership role,” new coach Amber Coburn said. “I knew she would be someone who could help the team out. And that was before I knew who she was.”
Just by sight, the way Arceneaux went about her business during camp, Coburn knew the talent level of her senior. Those first couple of days were meant to be a get-to-know-you phase between the new coaching staff and the young Jaguar club.
And within minutes, Coburn and got to know Arceneuax quite well, as the Jaguars future Division-I player put on a display.
But it will take more than just Arceneaux to carry this team. It’s not in her game to pick up her teammates, but to lead by example.
“From my first impression, I knew she would be someone I could rely on. All the seniors have really helped take the leadership role,” Coburn said. “But Ayanna has really stood out with how she prepares. She’s been a good example for the younger players.”