Featured Future is a summer series where the Observer will highlight local student athletes who are preparing to continue their athletic and educational careers at the college level, or those who have already begun that journey.
After two years at Durant, pitcher Ariana Rego transferred to Strawberry Crest and became a crucial piece of their roster as they battled their way to a 14-6 record and a district championship this past season.
In some ways Rego says that the transition from Durant to Crest was easy, with some of her closest friends in Kylee Dodson, Hannah Booth and Alexa Ringuette already on the Chargers’ softball team. But without much high school playing experience, the transition on the field was a tougher challenge.
“In the beginning I hadn’t really played high school ball so I was really nervous,” Rego said. “I remember my first preseason game I was actually shaking. I was nervous and I didn’t do well at all. Then, once preseason was over, I started to get more confident… I grew in confidence on the mound this season, I would say I became a better teammate – having to rely on my team – and then being able to know that I’m contributing to something big like that, it meant a lot to me.”
As her confidence rose, Rego’s impressive performances began to stack up. She pitched every single inning for the Chargers this season, totaling 19 complete games in 19 appearances en route to a 2.61 earned run average, an opposing batting average of .199 and a dominant 150 strikeouts over 123.2 innings pitched. At the plate, she hit .442 in 52 at-bats with eight runs batted in, two runs scored, two doubles and one home run.
“Rego has been a huge addition to this team,” head coach Ashton Johnson said. “Like I’ve told so many people, if she didn’t transfer or something went wrong with paperwork or if she changed her mind, we would have had a very different season. She’s very fast, she gets on base well, she does her job when we need her to. Not only pitching, but she stepped up a lot at the plate as well.”
With Rego heading into her senior season next year and a roster that is returning all but four players, one that includes six rising seniors, Crest is primed for another potential strong run in 2023.
“We’ll be great, we’ll go past districts,” Rego said. “It starts with Lola [Coole] in the outfield, she’s amazing out there. Then Kennedy [Shea] at short, it’s hard to stop that.”
First reported by Will Turner at Baymade Fastpitch, the trio of Rego, Ringuette and Dodson all announced verbal commitments to Lynn University in Boca Raton earlier this month.
“So for Lynn, it was really a quick process actually,” Rego said. “We talked at a camp, me, Alexa and Kylee did, and we scheduled a visit. What I loved about the school was that it was very small, I wanted a small school from the start. It has as many kids as Crest does, so I liked that… Committing with Alexa and Kylee is amazing. I play travel ball with them too and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”