Tribune MVP signs with FSU

Since she was a little girl starting to play softball, all Aaliyah Cuevas wanted to do was play for the Fresno State Bulldogs. “I’ve been wanting to be a Bulldog for a while,” she said. “I wanted to go that college. My dad went there, too.” Now the Madera Coyote four-time softball letterwinner will have a chance to play at the school she admired from afar. The two-time Madera Tribune Most Valuable softball player verbally commited to play at Fresno State for former Hoover-Fresno grad Linda Garza. “The coaching change affected me getting recruited,” Cuevas said. “Coach Garza was able to talk to (Coyote head coach Judy) Shaubach and hear more about me. She was able to see me in person and saw what I had. She really loved what she has seen.” “It’s a great opportunity to get a college education and play in your back yard where your parents and friends are able to watch her play,” Shaubach, a former Fresno State Bulldog, said. “It’s a dream come true for her. I really like the fit with Coach Garza. She’s really exciting and step in with a new coach at the same time is great.” Cuevas will be a recruited walk-on and will receive scholarship money next year. “Fresno State was the one school I wanted to go to when Margie Wright was there,” she said. “There were other schools talking to me, but tey weren’t what I wanted.” Cuevas is already Madera’s career RBI leader with 81, beating the record by 10 by the end of the season. She will easily break the century mark by the time May comes around for her senior season. By the time she is done with har four-year career, barring injury, Cuevas could become the school’s career leader in hits (needs 41), doubles (needs 13), home runs (needs three) and runs (needs 43). Even the career batting average and stolen bases records are within reach. “She’s a huge part of our program,” Shaubach said. “She’s a spark plug to get us going She does a lot of good things on the field for us. Just like in the champinoship game, she had a tough game until the last at bat, but was able to keep focusing and get that key hit to win the game. I tried to explain to her to push it all back and focus on the present moment. I’m excited for her, Fresno State and the Coyote softball program.” “I feel that it’s not over yet,” Cuevas said. “We still want to get another Valley Championship. I know what potential we have and know we can do it again.” Cuevas helped the Coyotes to back-to-back Div. II Valley Championships. She won this year’s championship with a walk-off inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the eighth inning at Margie Wright Diamond at Fresno State. Now, she’ll call that diamond home for four years. “That’s like a dream come true,” Cuevas said. “Not many people can say they won a valley championship and play at the same college the game was played at.” After hitting the inside-the-park home run, Cuevas piqued the interest in then-Fresno State softball coach Trisha Ford before she left for Arizona State. However, Garza came in, saw Cuevas and got her on board. Another perk for Cuevas is she’s close to home. “That’s why I loved it because it was close to home,” she said. “I liked everything about Fresno State. I wanted to have a lot of support there.” “I’m going to challenge her to get her name on the back wall where the championships and honors go,” Shaubach said. “I’m very proud of her to get herself in a position to be there. She has the opportunity.” Along with Shaubach, former Coyotes wearing Bulldog red include Madera Athletic Hall of Famer Angela Cervantez, who won an NCAA championship ring in 1998, Natalie Arballo, Angelina Diaz and Jody Badorine. “It’s my alma mater and it’s great to get another player there and get the opportunity to see her play there,” Shaubach said. The commitment to Fresno State culminated a pretty good 2016 for Cuevas. In May, she led the Coyotes to a second straight Valley Championship. In October, she was named Madera High School’s Homecoming queen and now she is committed to play softball at a school she dreamed of. “I want to thank everyone who’s ever supported me for everything I’ve done,” she said. “They are a big part of it. My parents, friends, family and coaches who have taught me everything I know.”