The 20-year-old pitcher Amanda (Mandy) Llerena is a Bay Area native that is from San Jose. Llerena, a junior, comes from a very diverse family; she is half Japanese and half Spanish. She is very family oriented. Although her family is about two hours away, she still gets homesick, but yet has her softball teammates to make her feel like home.
“They are definitely my family here. They are like my only friends. I know that I can go to them about anything and it’s usually about anything but softball a lot of the times,” Llerena said about her teammates.
Llerena graduated from Prospect High School in 2012 where she was Female Athlete of the Year both her junior and senior year. She has been playing softball since age seven. In high school, she played both positions as shortstop and pitcher. She also played soccer during high school and was team captain junior and senior year. Even though she doesn’t play soccer any more she still enjoys watching it.
“I’m a really big Giants fan. I usually watch every single game with my roommate,” Llerena said when talking about a few of her favorite sports. “I also really enjoy soccer because my dad’s from Spain and soccer is a huge thing over there.”
Soccer and softball are two sports that Llerena is really passionate about, but she could only choose one. She decided to go with softball.
“I think I chose softball over soccer, even though I really like soccer, because I felt like softball came more naturally to me, like pitching. I was just better in softball than I was in soccer I thought,” said Llerena.
Llerena has been playing softball for Sonoma State since she was a freshman. She has played in many games and has build memories when playing them. Her best memory and accomplishment was during her sophomore year during the California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference Tournament.
“We played against one of our biggest rival teams and we played a 14-inning game. It was like a five-hour long game. I got to throw to my best friend, Aubrie Tolliver (catcher), and we won. It was the craziest game ever,” Llerena said with excitement. “It went from daylight to night time.”
Llerena is very different from most players. She likes to inspire her team members when playing the game.
“I’m really into feeling inspired. I love inspirational people. I’m obsessed with quotes,” said Llerena.
She also doesn’t play softball for herself. Whenever she is playing a game, she is playing it for her grandparents or God. Her religion has a great impact on her when playing softball.
“A lot of my advice comes from God. One of my teammates sends out a bible verse before every game. A lot of the things that God has to say about not worrying about anything and praying about everything,” said Llerena.
When playing a game, Llerena always does two things: she wears the two important bracelets and signs her grandparents’ initials on the field before the game. One of her bracelets is a verse in the bible that has printed on it ‘Colossians 3:23’. The other bracelet she wears has written on it ‘I am second’. These bracelet help her remember that although she loves playing softball, she is playing for her grandparents and God.
“Mandy is known for being an inspirational leader on the team. She always knows what to say when we are down and when we need a pick-me-up. I truly admire her selfless attitude.” said Tolliver. “She always puts her teammates ahead of herself. She never cares about her stats or ERA but cares about her teammate and what she can do better for the team.”
When a softball player who is in college is really dedicated to the sport, it has to be a big part of their lives and it can get a little hectic when trying to remember education and playing. Llerena is a well-organized player that writes everything down so that she can maintain both softball and school.
“I basically live by my planner. I check it everyday, like five times a day, before I go to bed, when I wake up. My planner keeps me balanced,” said Llerena.
Llerena associates with softball in her life even if it’s not playing the sport. She has made great connections with her coaches and teammates that have made her the person who she is today.
“Coach Bridges has a huge impact on the way I think about a lot of things like just being completive and being a perfectionist and always never setting a limit for yourself. Also, being selfless and being humble,” Llerena said. “I’ve learned so many characteristics from playing softball and learning life lessons from my coach.”
A reason why Llerena picked to come to Sonoma State was because of the softball program. The Sonoma State softball team is a team with willpower and community based. They play for one another and together that makes them strong.
“Our team works harder than any other team in conference, I know that for a fact. We have sometimes practiced for six hours and I don’t think most teams do that. We work really hard and have so much pride, but at the same time we are such a humbled team,” said Llerena.
After graduating from Sonoma State with a business major, Llerena hopes to continue to go to school closer to home like San Jose State to get her teaching credentials to hopefully teach the fourth grade. She hopes to be a pitching coach and teach little kids how to play. Unfortunately, she does not want her kids, when she has some in the future, to play softball.
“I think I will take softball for what it’s taught me and continue to teach my kids and find ways to show them that sports can really change your life and give you good values and give you good characteristics, but I don’t think I want my kids to play softball,” Llerena said.
Llerena has learned many values through out the years of playing softball, but this year she has really learned that she wants to play softball for God.
“I’ve taken on playing for God. I feel like that’s where I found most of my success, so far, just not thinking about me when I’m out there and playing for something bigger."