Playing at Valley College since 2019, sophomore outfielder Caitlyn Pineda has shined with her bat and her aggressive base running.
By Edward Segal, Valley Life Editor
Down by three in the bottom of the fifth. Runners on second and third, two outs in the frame. A seasoned veteran walked up to the plate. The Monarchs had just earned their first hit of the game against pitcher Sierra Ruvalcaba and Glendale City College. Outfielder Caitlyn Pineda stepped up to the plate, looking to tie the game at four in her third game back after missing a month with a hamstring injury.
Looking for her second hit since her return to action, Pineda located the pitch, swung and connected with the barrel of the bat, watching it sail over the center field wall to bring the Monarchs even with the Vaqueros.
Pineda was not always a softball player. After joining a little league team at six-years-old, the power-hitter played for a season before taking a hiatus from the game. Playing mainly soccer as a child, Pineda made her return to the softball diamond at 12-years-old when she joined a team at Granada Hills Little League.
“My mom had made me join a softball league in spring of 2013,” said Pineda. “Soon, over the years, the best coaches pushed me and made me strive to become the player I am today.”
Forced to come back to the game by her mother after six years away from the sport, Pineda was drawn to softball in part because it brought her closer to those she loves.
“Throughout my whole life I’ve always been with family,” said Pineda. “I played soccer and softball with my cousins even throughout high school. They’re the ones who motivated me, encouraged me and competed with me to be my best.”
When she rejoined little league in 2013, she met her future Valley teammate, Lexus Freire, and formed a strong bond with the fellow outfielder — strong enough that they got matching heart tattoos on their wrists.
“In little league, we don’t realize how the sport is actually teaching us about how to work within a team setting,” said Freire. “This has impacted Caitlyn’s life because I feel that she has a better understanding of working with others, whether that is with softball or in a professional setting like at the vet clinic she works at.”
The San Fernando Valley native moved from Little League to travel ball to Cleveland High School, which is where she met her teammates — center fielder Elizabeth Flores and pitcher Amber Basham — who would all come to Valley to play for the Monarchs. Cleveland was also where she met Athletic Director Greg Venger, who moonlights as softball coach for the Monarchs. Her bond with Venger and her teammates from Cleveland convinced her to attend Valley and play for the Monarchs while studying veterinary medicine.
Three years later, her passion for the game kept her at Valley, despite already earning her associate’s degree.
Venger says the energy she brings to the game and her love for her teammates makes her a strong veteran in a group mostly made up of freshmen.
“She has become even more of a leader,” said Venger “She’s older and more mature now so she became the ‘momma bear’ to a lot of the other girls.”
With a batting average of .308 in 2019-20 and .231 in 2022, Pineda has made a real difference at bat, hitting three home runs and tallying 31 runs and 12 RBIs in 33 games with Valley. Her impact also extends to the basepaths, where she stole six bases this season while the rest of the Monarchs had only stolen seven combined.
“The adrenaline of being safe or out gets me, '' said the Monarchs’ veteran slugger. “I am always about getting dirty on the field — I’m always eager to get that extra base.”
With her aggressive hitting and baserunning, Pineda manages to keep the opposing pitchers on edge as she slices the bat over the plate and waits for the right moment to advance.