West Linn's Devinne Amesquita ready for more in college softball
West Linn's Devinne Amesquita almost had it all in her freshman year of college.
Amesquita, 18 and a 2017 West Linn graduate who just finished her freshman season as a member of the North Idaho College women's softball team, had big year with the bat, made a successful transition to her new team and played a leading role in the Cardinals' league championship run.
But then there's the word "almost." Amesquita "almost" had it all.
Twenty-one games into her freshman season with North Idaho, Amesquita caught a ball awkwardly, felt pain in her left thumb and learned soon after that she'd suffered a broken bone that would end her season.
"I thought it was just a jam, but then I went to the doctor and he told me it was broken," she said. "I was devastated. I felt as though the thing I loved most was taken away from me."
The injury, a vertical break along one of the bones in Amesquita's left hand, ended a season that saw her bat .513 — fourth-best on the team — with one double, five homers, 19 RBIs and 20 runs scored in just 39 at-bats.
Amesquita's success, a result of her own hard work and her work with the Cardinals' coaches, did not surprise North Idaho head coach Don Don Williams.
"Devinne is a player that is a student of the game," Williams said. "She has a potent bat that allows her to drive the ball to all parts of the field."
That's a sentiment that Amesquita's high school teammates and opponents certainly would have agreed with. As a senior, she hit .455 with 15 RBIs in league play, a trend that — along with her own hard work — she carried over to her first college season.
"We did so many continuous hours of work, hitting off tees and working on fundamentals, it really made a difference," Amesquita said.
Also helpful to Amesquita this season was the plethora of talent surrounding her in the Cardinals' lineup. While she was often the key bat in the West Linn lineup — she was listed as one of the state's most feared hitters entering her senior season — the pressure that came with that wasn't always helpful.
"Mentally, I wasn't always very strong," she said. "If I'd do poor for a game, I'd get down on myself. But it wasn't like that this year because we had so many great players."
Those great players helped North Idaho make a memorable, record-setting season that saw the Cardinals go 50-3 overall and win the Northwest Athletic Conference championship for the first time in school history.
"We all had that passion to win and be the best. We pushed each other to be the best and we all put in the time to get better."
— Devinne Amesquita
During Amesquita's time in the lineup, North Idaho went 19-2 overall, including a 10-1 start in NWAC play.
But then came that one play, an instance Amesquita described by saying "I just caught a ball wrong."
Initially, she thought she had just jammed her thumb — a somewhat common occurrence for catchers — and came back to play again the next day. But when the pain continued, Amesquita went to the doctor and found out that her season was over.
As disappointing as that doctor's season-ending diagnosis was, Amesquita was determined to stick with her team and help it anyway she could.
"It was a mix of emotions (when she learned her thumb was broken), but I realized that I needed to be there for my team and keep a positive attitude," she said.
So that's what she did. Amesquita went to every practice. She served as a baserunner in drills. She called pitches for one of the Cardinals' pitchers. And she was part of the best season in Cardinals' history.
"All of us wanted to win," she explained. "We all had that passion to win and be the best. We pushed each other to be the best and we all put in the time to get better."
The result of all that hard work culminated in the top-seeded Cardinals' 8-5 win over No. 6 Lower Columbia of Longview, Washington, in the championship of the Northwest Athletic Conference softball tournament at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane, Washington, on May 21.
"It was awesome. It was the best atmosphere I'd ever been in," Amesquita said. "It was the best feeling ever being able to run out on that field after we won."
Now, Amesquita is aiming for even bigger and better things in her sophomore season. She has been cleared to return to catching and is currently working on her strength and fitness in preparation for the 2018-19 campaign.
"I'm a little nervous about going back to catching," she admitted. "I will definitely add a brace of some sort.
Until then, she said, "I'm running, walking, lifting weights and hitting off tees until I go back."
For her part, Williams believes there are more good things ahead for the former West Linn star.
"She is continuing to grow as a player. I am excited to see her play next year," Williams said.