BY DENNIS SILVA II | email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Austin has become a familiar home for Foster softball during June.
The Falcons made their second appearance in six years at the state tournament last season after punching their inaugural ticket to state in 2013.
So, after graduating only four seniors, the M.O. for 2019 is simple, if not predictable, for Foster, which fell to Forney, 4-1, in the Class 5A state championship game in 2018.
“To not come up short and win a state title,” senior outfielder Ciarra “CiCi” Mata said.
Foster finished last season 41-10-1, the deepest postseason run in school history, and is loaded once again. Foster is ranked No. 2 in Class 5A in the state by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, only behind Forney.
A central piece of the star-loaded team is Mata, a UTSA signee and honorable mention all-state selection whose renown fire and passion for the sport embodies the program.
Growing up on softball fields, watching her older sister play, Mata has always had the game in her DNA. She plays for her late grandfather and family.
“My grandpa was a huge impact on my softball life, especially when he passed away in 2013,” Mata said. “He was one of my No. 1 supporters, and him watching me play kept a smile on his face.
“My parents have always pushed and supported me to be the best ballplayer I could be, and my inner competitiveness has always pushed me to strive to be the best.”
Along with utility player Shelby Showers, pitcher Amanda Allen, catcher Alyssa Muceus, infielder Kylie Neel, and four-year letterman Leea Dempsey, Mata—who hit .352 with 45 runs scored and 24 RBIs last season, to go with 26 walks, six triples and 21 stolen bases—will engineer Foster during a season that has high hopes and higher expectations.
Mata recently took part in an interview with 281 Sports Unlimited.
Q: What did you all take away from last year’s loss in the state tournament? What can you all build on for this year?
A: That it is not easy to get to state. You have to fight your way to the state tournament by facing some really great teams. This year, we will build more on our team bonding and be more productive on the field, fielding and hitting.
Q: At what age did you begin playing softball, and about when did you start to realize it could be something you pursue in college?
MATA: I started playing at the age of 4. I started realizing I could pursue softball in college at the age of 14 in the eighth grade.
Q: You signed to play softball at UTSA. What are your personal goals for this senior season?
MATA: Be more aggressive on baserunning and be more of a mentor to the underclassmen. Also, to hit my first home run of my entire career.
Q: What kind of things do you hope to improve on in your game this year?
MATA: I hope to improve on becoming more of a triple threat on the left side, hitting.
Q: How do you think this year’s Foster team will be different than last year’s?
MATA: I already feel like our hitting is stronger than it was. Also, our team has bonded quicker than it did last year.
Q: What do you credit for Foster’s success over the last few years and how it has established itself as one of the best softball programs in the Houston area?
MATA: The last four years, being on varsity, our confidence has grown each year the further and further we’ve gotten in the playoffs. I believe this is due to us being more mature and experienced. Also, our coaches pushing us to our full potential and never stop believing in us.