Tayana Mata helps Sierra College to state softball titleBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
For the first time in school history, Sierra College won the California Community College Athletic Association State Softball Championship, courtesy of a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Mt. Sac on May 18.
One of the key players on the team is 2010 Vista del Lago graduate Tayana Mata, who capped off her final year at Sierra College with an exceptional season in which she was the Big 8 Player of the Year, was named to the All-State team and also was named a member of the California Junior College All-American North Team.
“Personally, the year went very well,” said Mata, who played second base. “I was the first female athlete from Sierra to be named Player of the Month and I also earned Player of the Year and made first-team All-American. I’m most proud of being an All-American. That was my goal at the beginning of the season.”
Mata, who hit third in Sierra’s lineup, led the team in hits (66), triples (3) home runs (18), runs batted in (60), walks (22), stolen bases (24), on base percentage (.527), slugging percentage (.944) and runs scored (62). She finished third in the state in home runs and runs batted in.
“We had a very deep team and Tayana was an integral part of it and a big-time player,” Sierra coach Darci Brownell said. “Her hitting and her quickness on the bases are her strengths. She works all the time on her hitting. In fact, I had to tell her to stop working on her hitting at one point, because after practice she would go hit four buckets of balls on her own and at one point her hands were bleeding.”
The Wolverines, who finished the year with a 43-5 record, trailed Mt. San Antonio 4-0 after five innings in the championship game, but rallied for five runs in the sixth to take the lead. Mata started the two-out rally with a bunt single and scored the team’s first run of the game.
Mt. San Antonio tied the game in the seventh, but Sierra scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth to win, 6-5.
While the individual accolades were impressive, Mata loved winning the state tournament the best.
“It was mind-blowing to win it because it’s the first time Sierra has ever done it,” Mata said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Mata said a retreat to Santa Cruz prior to the season helped bring the team together.
“It was just a team-bonding thing and we didn’t play any softball,” Mata said. “We played games, had fun and got to know everyone. We just clicked in a magical way from that point forward.”
With her career at Sierra over, Mata is moving on to the University of Hawaii next year to finish her collegiate career.
“I’m going to walk on their team and hopefully if I play well, I can get a scholarship,” Mata said.