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By Loren Kopff
@ LorenKopff on Twitter
CATHEDRAL CITY-It hasn’t taken that long for Deidra Genera to get her feet wet in the college softball scene. The 2015 Gahr High graduate and former ace of the Lady Gladiators pitching staff is immediately making a huge impact for Bethune-Cookman University and through the first games 16 games of the season, has recorded all of the Wildcats’ three victories.
In fact, those three victories came in a two-day span during the National Collegiate Softball Invitational in Clermont, FL including the first two games of the season, a 13-5 win over Morgan State University and an 8-0 win against Liberty University on Feb. 12. Her win against Morgan State came in relief as she worked two and two-thirds innings, allowing three hits and striking out a pair of batters.
“It’s really fun meeting new people, although all of the teammates are really nice to get along with,” Genera said. “It’s been a little hard at first to get used to [college life]. But I’m pretty used to it now.”
“We knew that we would need some depth in our pitching this year and she was just a kid that had such a great demeanor and is a great defensive pitcher,” said Bethune-Cookman head coach Laura Watten. “She has just a great composure on the mound and it’s just so crucial at this level to be able to keep your composure because you’re facing some great hitters. You have to be able to convince your defense to play behind you. She’s just is very in control and communicates well with her defense and is a great team player and a great team pitcher.”
After Bethune-Cookman lost to Chattanooga on Feb. 13, Genera pitched in her third game later that day and went the distance for the second time as the Wildcats edged the University of Akron 3-2. In fact, her performances in those three games of the four-game tournament allowed her to be the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Pitcher of the Week. During that weekend, Genera worked 20 innings and struck out 18, seven of which were looking.
“Personally, I was very excited,” Genera said. “I didn’t know if I was going to start. But the fact that I did and I do so well, I was proud of myself.”
“That’s always good and it’s a good accolade and I was really proud of her,” Watten said. “She pitched 20 innings in that first week and that’s a lot for a freshman to throw the first weekend out. It says a lot; it says a lot about our potential and what we can and will be. The whole reason we’re out here is to really face a lot of mental toughness. That goes from playing against the best teams to getting beat up by the best teams to bouncing back to learning how to fight.”
Bethune-Cookman recently competed in the 13th annual Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, the only trip the Wildcats will make in the regular season west of the Mississippi River, and although the team lost all 11 games played, Genera has faced some of the tougher teams in the nation. Genera started against University of the Pacific and then-fourth ranked Louisiana State University on Feb. 19, University of California, Santa Barbara on Feb. 21 and San Jose State University and Brigham Young University on Feb. 25. After 16 games, Genera leads the team with a 4.30 earned run average, seven starts, three complete games, 44 innings pitched and was tied with last season’s MEAC Pitcher of the Year, Sabrina Anguiano, with 27 strikeouts.
“I didn’t know how the competition was going to be,” Genera said. “But the fact that I did good, I was very happy.”
Genera, who was a Los Cerritos Community News first team pitcher as a junior and senior, left Gahr with 23 wins, including going 8-1 last season with a 2.30 ERA. Her 235 innings pitched, 227 strikeouts and 23 wins are second most in school history since 2000.
“Working with her a lot in the fall and then into the spring, I knew she would be a great asset,” Watten said. “I knew she would be somebody that we would really be building around to be able to have as one of our key pitchers out there. She sets a great tone out there.”
The Wildcats went 22-29 last season but 11-3 in the MEAC and has won eight conference championships since 1993, the last coming in 2012. Bethune-Cookman will play five games in the Hatter Classic this weekend in DeLand, FL and will open up MEAC play on Mar. 25 against Savannah State University.
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