Leaving West Coast paid off for Alexis OsorioBy Ehsan Kassim | 04/27/2018 4:05am
Alexis Osorio never intended to leave the West Coast. The farthest she was willing to go was one state away to attend college and play softball.
Alabama looked completely out of the picture as a destination since her lone trip to the state had been a disaster.
“We had just finished a game and were outside to talk,” she said. “I wasn’t feeling very well. I had a headache and I was dizzy. All of a sudden I was laying on the ground, and then I woke up in my parents' hotel room.”
The episode was traumatic enough for Alexis Osorio to make a rash decision about the state of Alabama.
“It was so darn hot and humid, and we weren't used to that humidity,” her father Anthony Osorio said. “There's no way to prepare for it. She told us, ‘I’m never come back to this state, ever.’”
Alexis Osorio continued playing softball, and as she grew older, she started garnering attention from Division I colleges to continue her playing career.
During the high school softball season at King High School, Alexis Osorio dazzled her softball coach Lucinda Brewer with her abilities.
“As soon as she came into high school her freshman year, it was obvious that she had a lot of talent, and she just had really good composure on the mound,” Brewer said. “It was her freshman year [when] she actually threw a perfect game. When she had that perfect game, my expectations and my goals have changed, and I thought, ‘You know the sky's the limit with her on the mound.’”
Alexis Osorio, 14 at the time, was throwing against opponents older than her. When the high school season ended, she pitched for Marty Tyson and the Corona Angels travel ball team.
Tyson called upon his young star pitcher in key situations, and she never shied away.
“We were out playing in the Triple-Crown Championships in New York,” Tyson said “We’re on T.V., and it’s the first time we’ve ever been at a tournament like this. I chose her to throw, and we ended up losing in extra innings, but she just took it to another level. She was only a sophomore. I think that was her coming-out party.”
As college letters poured in to recruit Alexis Osorio, Arizona State looked like the early favorite to land the right-handed thrower. It was near her home of Riverside, California and was a school her entire family liked.
But The University of Alabama was still lurking.
Erika Osorio, Alexis Osorio's mother, also wanted her to look at some colleges not on the West Coast, so that she could have more options.
At that time, Alabama coach Patrick Murphy entered the picture. He offered Alexis Osorio a chance to come out to the University and see the campus.
The Osorios were familiar with Alabama because of former Crimson Tide legend Charlotte Morgan. Morgan was also from California and had the same pitching coach as Alexis Osorio.
They scheduled a visit to Tuscaloosa, but Alabama still didn’t seem like a real possibility for her. In fact, she had a visit set for Arizona State the very next weekend.
“When I got offered to come on an unofficial [visit] here, my dad was a little hesitant, but my mom told him 'I want her to go and see what she says no to, if that was the case,'” Alexis Osorio said. “But when I came here, I knew as soon as I met a few of the girls and the coaches that this was the place for me. This was home.”
The next week, the family went on the visit to Arizona State, but Alexis Osorio’s mind was made up. She was going to pitch for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Alexis Osorio has had a fair amount of success since coming to Alabama. On April 21, she became the fourth pitcher in program history to strikeout 1,000 hitters, is the all-time leader in strikeouts per seven innings– averaging 10.07 coming into the 2018 season–and owns six of the 10 highest single-game strikeout records.
In her start on March 10 against Fordham, Alexis Osorio tied the NCAA record with 21 strikeouts.
“Honestly I had no idea how many [strikeouts] I had,” Alexis Osorio said. “Even at the end of the game, on that last strikeout, the announcer had said something, but everybody around me was already cheering, so I couldn’t hear what he was saying. After everyone was done cheering, I had to ask what he had mentioned. It felt pretty good, everything was working. I trusted myself, I was trusting throwing through the zone and challenging the hitters. I just felt great out there. It feels smooth whenever I am in the zone.”
Anyone who knows Alexis Osorio would not be surprised that she didn't keep track of how many strikeouts she had. When she is on the mound, she is in her own world.
“I just focus on breathing and tune out everything,” Alexis Osorio said. “I know some people ask me when I come out of an inning, ‘Did you hear me?’, and I tell them I don’t really hear anything when I’m out there. I just focus on me and the catcher. I have done that my whole life. It’s kind of hard to do that here, because the fans do really get loud, but I am just focused on my breathing.”
Her ability to block out everything around her is a big reason Brewer believes Alexis Osorio has been as successful as she has.
“I'm telling you that's her, that's her," Brewer said. "She's so focused. She has such an ability to have that narrow focus. You know like on a ball-point pen she is the very tip that you write with. That's how narrow her focus is in the moment and that she doesn't know what the score is. She doesn't know that she's going to have a no-no or a perfect game. And I think that ability to really narrow focus on just her task at hand, you know the pitch that's being called and then her job to deliver that pitch. I don't think you see that a lot. And I think that's part of what makes her special.”
While her first trip to Alabama did not go as she planned, Alexis Osorio said she could not be happier with her decision to choose it as her college destination.
“Ever since I stepped foot on campus here, it’s just been a life changer,” she said. “I’ve learned so much, and I’ve grown so much over the years. It’s been the experience of a lifetime spending my time here at Alabama.”
Alexis Osorio hopes to make a return to the softball College World Series in her senior season as she wraps up her college career.
For Murphy, Alexis Osorio has been everything he had hoped for, and more.
“She’s one of the best we’ve ever had,” Murphy said. “It’s a huge accomplishment for her. It says a lot about her as a kid to be able to do it for four years. She’s just a hell of a pitcher, and I’m really proud of her.”