It was probably one of Alysa Gutierrez’s most nerve-wracking moments in her life. In late October, the Gilroy High senior was in the Colorado Mesa University softball facility throwing a bullpen session as her potential future coaches and teammates looked on.
“All eyes were on me,” Gutierrez said.
The right-hander purported herself well, as she was offered a scholarship the same day. One day later, Gutierrez called Maverick coach Erik Kozel to say she had accepted the offer, capping a whirlwind recruiting process that saw Gutierrez decommit from Chico State.
“A couple of years ago, I never thought I would be signing an NLI (national letter of intent),” she said. “It’s a piece of paper, but it’s a pretty big deal.”
Gutierrez is known for her ability to impart tremendous spin on her pitches, and throw them with accuracy. That probably impressed Kozel as he pored over Gutierrez’s highlight videos.
“She is a very consistent pitcher with a lot of great movement on the ball,” he said in a press release. “When she visited our campus, she fit right in with our team, and our players are excited for her to pitch for us.”
Gutierrez’s strengths lie in her riseball and ability to impart tremendous spin on her pitches, key components since she doesn’t register high numbers on the radar gun like some of her peers. However, as Gutierrez showed in the 2019 season, she knows how to pitch. That season, she emerged as the Gilroy High ace, pitching three-fourths of the team’s innings.
“She’s a workhorse,” Gilroy coach Dusty Lester said. “Her mentality and work ethic is second to none. Even if she has a good game, she always thinks she could’ve done better. I know she’ll do really well at Colorado Mesa.”
After decommitting from Chico State in the fall, Gutierrez was set on playing for a community college for a year before transferring to a four-year school. But once she sent out her highlight videos to several college coaches, it didn’t take long for Colorado Mesa to respond.
Thanks to recruiting services where players can upload their highlight videos and profiles to recruiting sites, players like Gutierrez – who hasn’t played a game for Gilroy High since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in mid March – can still earn scholarships to play at the four-year level.
“I had a lot of worries of not being able to play because I wasn’t exposed to as many college coaches (because of the cancelled high school and club seasons due to the virus),” she said.
Gilroy High played a couple of games before the 2020 season was ultimately cancelled. That did nothing to deter Gutierrez’s motivation. She continued to train regularly, either with her dad or with some of her teammates practicing social distancing and using masks. At the start of the pandemic, Gutierrez often went to Christmas Hill Park and practiced there “all day,” a testament to her focus and determination to continually improve amid these unconventional times.