Turning the Paige: Former San Benito standout shining at Gavilan

Paige Miguel, a former San Benito High standout, is now one of Gavilan's top pitchers and hitters.

One word perfectly summarizes the relationship between Gavilan College softball pitcher Paige Miguel and Rams coach Nikki Dequin: love.
In the summer of 2011, the Rams were the frontrunners to land Miguel, who was one of the South Valley’s most sought-after junior college prospects after she helped lead San Benito High to a Central Coast Section Division I championship in her junior and senior year.
At the time, the idea of Miguel playing at Gavilan seemed like a no-brainer. After all, Miguel’s father, Joey, was a standout baseball player there.
“We had a great relationship with Paige, and we had her all signed up and ready to go,” Dequin said. “And then another junior college came in and recruited her, and she ended up going there.”
That place was Hartnell, and just like that, the talented right-hander had been pried away from Gavilan. Dequin was flabbergasted, but she still told Miguel that the door would always be open for her to play at Gavilan.
Talk about a sixth sense. After one year at Hartnell, Miguel transferred to Gavilan, where she was welcomed with open arms.
Love indeed.
“I’m thankful for having coach in my life,” Miguel said. “She told me the other day that as soon as I made the decision to go to Hartnell, she knew it would not be the right fit for me, but it was a lesson I had to learn. And she was right — it wasn’t the right fit. She always left the door open for me to come back here if I changed my mind.”
Said Dequin: “I can’t say enough good things about Paige. Paige knows what it’s like to be a champion. She’s a student of the game, and just a natural leader. She has an incredible presence in the circle, and you feel confident when she’s pitching.”
After sitting out the 2013 season to get her academics in order so she could transfer after the 2014 spring semester, Miguel has shown why Dequin was so high on her coming out of high school.
Possessing the ability to throw five pitches for strikes, Miguel uses pinpoint accuracy and tremendous movement to baffle opposing hitters. Miguel utilizes a devastating dropball to induce numerous groundouts.
Through three starts this season, Miguel was 2-0, having pitched 19 innings with a 4.42 ERA. Miguel has also boosted the 4-1 Rams offensively. She’s been hitting fourth or fifth in the lineup, and has a .400 batting average to go along with a .526 on-base percentage.
Miguel had what she described as an “OK” season at Hartnell two years ago, but she’s become a more well-rounded pitcher since then.
“I’ve developed more pitches in the last couple of years, I’m mentally stronger, and I have a lot more confidence,” she said.
Confidence is one thing that Miguel lacked up until the third game of her junior year at San Benito, when she hurled a perfect game against Piedmont Hills. From that point on, Miguel was a different player.
Miguel allowed just two extra-base hits that entire season, before producing arguably the greatest season by a pitcher in San Benito history. In her senior year, Miguel went 18-0 with a 1.02 ERA in 117 innings pitched, allowing just 59 hits to the 436 batters she faced. And for the second season in a row, she yielded just two extra-base hits, neither of which was a home run.
“I started to take the game more seriously in my junior year, and (San Benito coach) Scott Smith helped me grow not just as a player, but as a person,” Miguel said. “I wasn’t outgoing at all until my junior year, and Scott really pushed me and expected me to perform at a top level. I was able to rise to the occasion, but I know even he was surprised that I was one of the pitchers who took over after (four-year San Benito ace) Marissa (Ibarra) graduated.”
Miguel doesn’t know which four-year university she’ll be attending in the fall, but she plans on returning to Hollister and making it her home for life, just as her parents and grandparents have done.
“I’m one of the few that love this town,” Miguel said. “I don’t have that feeling of needing to leave. If I go away for college, I do plan on coming back and eventually having my family here.”
Miguel feels blessed to have such beloved figures in her life, including her parents, her two siblings, her faith in God, and, of course, the softball coach who never gave up on her.
“Nikki saw the potential in me and helped me grow, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful,” Miguel said. “Of course, when things didn’t work out at Hartnell, it was tough going through that. But everything that’s happened to me so far has only made me stronger and the person I am today.”