Southern Oregon University
Recently, the Raider softball team entered postseason play but fell short of reaching the National Championship bracket play. Ranked 8th in the country, the Raiders lost to 10th-ranked Grand View (Iowa) in the regional bracket. The Raiders completed with a 49-14 win-loss record this season. Their win record put this season was recorded as the fourth-highest win record in the team’s history. In addition, the Raiders might have been knocked out early but still hold records nationally from this season. As of this week, the Raiders team leads the nation in hits (664), RBIs (449), runs (493), and OBP (.448).
Following the highlights of the Raider softball program this season, senior Erika Marquez had great insights about her time at SOU, the season, and what it means to be a part of the softball culture here at SOU.
From Tucson, AZ. all the way to Ashland, OR. Marquez joined the Raider program in the 2018-19 season. For Marquez, she originally chose SOU because of softball. And, during her time at SOU, she’s been part of a 179-31 win-loss record. This year was her final season on the field, and Marquez commented about the uniqueness of this senior season. “What was really important to me this season was being the best leader that I could be […] I was really able to get to know everyone for who they really were, while also being my most transparent, authentic self. I wanted to be happy and enjoy every day this year. I didn’t care about my batting average, my stats, or anything like that. I genuinely just wanted to be present and in every single thing this year, no matter how negative it was,” she highlighted.
Though her time on the field is done, Marquez is planning to stay for a fifth-year to complete her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in physical therapy (PT). Following this career pathway, she hopes to complete a doctorate in PT. “[I] have hope of being a pediatric physical therapist for little kids or a traveling PT,” she said. Marquez is also an artist. She was featured last spring in the 2021 Fringe Festival for her artwork. Pursuing and achieving within both the art and medical field is ideal for Marquez.
With choosing PT, Marquez was indecisive at first and changed her major a few times. “What really made physical therapy stick for me was my experience with PT. I remember the summer before I came up here my freshman year. I was doing all the workouts and my body wasn’t used to doing that kind of workload, so I got sesamoiditis in the bottom of my foot and had to go to PT for that […] so that’s where I really kind of fell in love with PT,” Marquez commented.
During her time at SOU, Marquez fell in love with “the school and community.” She commented, “I would also say the Ashland community itself […] I feel like we have such a community based on just pure friendliness, and, honestly, that’s really rare in certain communities. And I have really grown to love that on top of [Ashland] being an extremely beautiful place to live […] after winning a National Championship and just having the entire town on the street cheering for us, reaching out to us with congratulations, I think was when it really sunk in that I was at home. I just felt really privileged and honored to be a part of this program.”
In terms of what made Marquez want to pursue college athletics, she says, “I chose to play college athletics because it’s always been my dream of competing at just the highest level that I could, and I wasn’t ready to give that up after high school […] I just really wanted to be a part of something that I had never experienced before. I wanted something new, and I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, bigger than my own pursuits.” During her four years at SOU, Marquez was part of two National Championship teams. She mentioned that it’s always been more than the ring. It was about being around the people and making new memories.
Marquez mentioned a few of her favorite memories from her time during softball and school. From softball she said, “we were in Missouri my freshman year for nationals and just being there was my first taste of being a collegiate athlete and being on a collegiate team […] and it was the most indescribable memory. I feel like it was such a special moment because at that point that was unmarked territory. We made history, and it was like an out-of-body experience. […] It was when we were playing in the semifinal game and we had to win this game to get into the championship game. And I remember Gabby called a timeout when there was only two outs left or there were two outs, and she called the whole team in and was like ‘act like we’ve been here before, like we deserve this game.’ and that was such an incredible moment.”
From the school side of things, Marquez highlighted, “what I really love about the student part is that I get that competitiveness I find from sports. So, I’m always trying to just get a really good grade, learn concepts, and do similar stuff like that. I find that exhilarating and so fun. And I remember all the late nights […]for example, Olivia, ‘Omac,’ we would have one night a week where we would pull an all-nighter. We would sit at the table doing homework, and then we would drive to Wendy’s and then come back and keep studying. And those are some of the best memories of being absolutely delusional at 3AM, but we also used that competitive drive to do better in school.”
And then, a favorite moment from this last season, Marquez highlighted, “it was after we dropped the conference tournament, and we had a Raider Ruck 2.0. It was a really special moment because this team could have taken that in a negative manner and not shown up, [but] we pushed the Gator to the top of Park Street. And doing that with this team was so empowering. We came up short of our goals, but it doesn’t take away any of the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears we put in.”
And on the note of challenges, Marquez reflected on some of her own and how she overcame them. “I would say being in certain situations where I felt like I lost my identity because I was in a whole new town, a new place […]and being around the most talented players all in one place was hard in those years […] it was challenging because I had to find myself in a new role and see myself in a new light […] but it’s funny because something like that helped me to grow as a woman, who I wanted to be, what values I wanted […]and I’m just really grateful for this program and the amazing teammates I’ve had.”
Plus, one lesson Marquez emphasizes is that “there’s a lesson to learn from every single person you meet, and maybe it’s not a lesson, but there’s something to takeaway because every person is different and so unique.” Another lesson she illuminates is the control we have over our choices, thoughts, and actions. “I learned that life is often our reactions to things, and that’s something I will always have control over,” she added.
The last piece of advice is designated for incoming freshmen and some of the younger students at SOU. “Branch out,” Marquez comments, and “give yourself an opportunity to experience new things that make you uncomfortable. […] Don’t waste your four years here just walking through life. Challenge yourself here […] you get out of it what you put into it […] last, be really proud of yourself for being here, and take pride in being a Raider. This is supposed to be fun, so don’t stress yourself out too much.”
Looking forward and reflecting about this season, Marquez remarked, “just the way it ended and how it felt, no one was really prepared. But, I’m so proud of every single person on our team, and it’s been such a pleasure to be a player on this team, especially in a leadership role. I feel so blessed for the teammates that I have had this year […] I know these girls and I know that they’re not gonna let this go in vain. They’re gonna feel this, but they’re going to use this to fuel them every single day in summer, fall, Ruck winter, and finally season […] and I feel like there’s something good to be taken out of everything. Life doesn’t know the hard work you put in and neither does the game. And I feel like that’s such an important lesson for this team. The game doesn’t know, and it’s really about who shows up in that specific moment. I’m so excited to see what they do next year.”
For the final parting question:
M: The zombie apocalypse is coming, who are 3 people you want on your team (famous and not)?
E: My answer would have to be Tyler the Creator, Omac, and my sister Emily.