As we continue on this special San Pedro News Pilot Class Of 2020 spotlight feature series on student athletes at the San Pedro-based high schools whose senior years were cut short due to the coronavirus, here is our feature on San Pedro High softball pitcher & shortstop Briana Velazquez.
Few have had a storybook kind of high school career as Velazquez was able to accomplish. In her freshman year at San Pedro in 2017, she was a vital member of the Pirates' Marine League and CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division 1 championship runs.
Afterwards, Velazquez worked harder than most would in and in doing so, made some incredible, and in some cases, impossible to believe memories, such as hitting a walk-off grand slam to defeat Banning of Wilmington on May 2, 2018, and throwing a perfect game against Cerritos on March 13, 2019 in which she struck out 18 out of 21 batters faced, helping the Pirates reach the inaugural CIF-LACS Open Division finals in 2018, her sophomore season.
In 85 career games, Velazquez produced lifetime statistics of a .388 batting average, a .454 on-base percentage, 83 hits, 16 home runs, 17 doubles, 6 triples, 70 RBIs and was 6-for-8 in stolen bases. Pitching wise she finished with a 3.16 ERA, 18-12 record, 4 shutouts, a no-hitter, the perfect game, and 254 strikeouts in 195 innings pitched.
Velazquez is headed to Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida after becoming a two-time All-City Open Division selection, two-time All-Marine League first team selection, and the San Pedro News Pilot Player Of The Year in 2018 & 2020.
WHEN YOU FOUND OUT THE SEASON WAS ENDING DUE TO COVID-19, HOW DID YOU FEEL IN REGARDS TO THAT TURN OF EVENTS?: "I was very heartbroken and disappointed."
HOW MUCH DID VARIOUS FRIENDS AND ADVISORS FROM SPHS COME TO VISIT/HONOR YOU ON WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SENIOR DAY MEAN TO YOU?: "It meant so much to me. I really appreciated it and I was very happy they could celebrate that day (April 29) with me, even though it was just for a quick picture."
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON OUT OF THE FOUR YEARS AT SPHS?: "Definitely my sophomore year, because we were the underdogs and we made a big impact that year."
WHEN YOU CAME UP TO BAT AGAINST BANNING IN THE 2018 REGULAR SEASON FINALE WITH THE BASES LOADED, WHAT WAS YOUR MAIN GOAL?: "I was just thinking I need to do something simple to get the ball out of the infield to keep the rally going for my team."
AND WHEN IT TURNED OUT TO BE A FIRST PITCH WALK-OFF GRAND SLAM, WHAT KIND OF EMOTIONS DID YOU FEEL?: "At first I was shocked because I didn't go up there swinging for a home run, but then I got really excited and pumped seeing my teammates, fans and coaches' reactions."
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE BETHUNE COOKMAN AS YOUR COLLEGE DESTINATION?: "Definitely because they had everything I was looking for, college-wise. They have my major and I'll be able to play both my positions as a pitcher and shortstop."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 2017 CIF-LACS DIVISION 1 CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM?: "It was definitely an honor being one of the three freshmen to make it on that team. I learned a lot from the seniors that year, they were great mentors and leaders."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE PERFECT GAME YOUR JUNIOR YEAR?: "I was very excited. It was one of the best memories I had pitching at Pedro."
FAVORITE MEMORY AT SPHS SOFTBALL?: "Defeating Carson in the (CIF-LACS Open Division) quarterfinals my sophomore year, because we were expected by many to lose."
WHAT WILL YOU MISS THE MOST AT SPHS?: "Being around my girls and the staff, and continuing the Pedro softball legacy."
FAVORITE QUOTE: "I've failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan.
FINALLY, WHAT IS YOUR MAIN GOAL THAT YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE ONCE YOU SET FOOT ON CAMPUS AT BETHUNE COOKMAN?: "To grow as a player and person, make some great memories and hopefully make great impacts as I did at Pedro."
Velazquez, who hit .700 (14-for-20) this shortened season and hit a home run against El Dorado in her final game on March 7, also on her 18th birthday no less, is planning on studying to become a veterinarian while at Bethune Cookman.