2008 FERRIS STATE SOFTBALL FEATURE -- RHEA FLORES
Flores progresses for Bulldogs
By Sandy Gholston
BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – Beginning her college softball career at Ferris State University, last season as a freshman, proved a yearlong learning experience of what it takes to compete at the Division II level.
That learning experience was and continues to be an ongoing process for Rhea Flores who has had a chance to see up close and personal what it takes to succeed as a college softball student-athlete. In the end, it mostly comes down to a formula of hard work and fundamentals. A solid base of fundamentals generally is a portion of a hungry student-athlete’s prescription for success – in softball, or for that matter, any other sport. Flores, who is a sophomore on Ferris’ roster, certainly is hopeful her off-season dedication continues to pay dividends. The hard-throwing Flores’ approach to softball competition, this spring, has been to stay positive and work hard to capitalize on openings that present themselves on the diamond.
|Ferris State sophomore pitcher Rhea Flores has worked hard in the offseason to develop her skills as a pitcher in an ongoing effort to master her top pitches. (Photo/Sandy Gholston)
After playing sparingly, last spring as a rookie, Flores has worked her way into Ferris’ lineup a little more regularly. That mostly has been due to her rediscovered proficiency swinging the bat. Flores entered this week batting .371 with 13 hits in 35 at bats for the Bulldogs. As part of those numbers, she has stroked three doubles, two home runs and driven in six runs as a solid stick in Ferris’ suddenly-potent offensive batting lineup.
“Really, I’ve just been trying to keep everything kind of simple and basic,” said Flores, whose Bulldogs entered the week’s competition 23-12 overall and in second place in the GLIAC at 13-3. “I just keep my eyes on the ball, make sure I swing (with good mechanics) and just try to put the ball in play as much as I can. I didn’t get a chance to play as much, last year, and I knew this year I was going to have my chances and the thing I really wanted to do was make sure I took advantage of my chances as much as I could.”
The 5-foot-8 Flores, a Dearborn Heights native who prepped at Southgate Anderson High School, showed signs of the hitting potential she now is beginning to realize, even as a freshman, as she batted .318 with seven hits and a home run, in just 22 at bats, for a Bulldog team that finished 31-17 and earned a spot in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Tournament. Even with her success hitting the ball, however, Flores was brought to Ferris for her true specialty: pitching. Making the adjustment from high school softball to the college level is not always an easy one as so many pitchers quickly discover. Flores, who throws a drop, changeup and fastball, is making a steady progress she hopes will continue to pay dividends.
“It’s a tough adjustment to make and I’ve put in a lot of work changing from 40 feet to 43,” said Flores, who was saluted by head coach Keri Becker for her improved control and command of pitches entering her sophomore season – in addition to her hitting improvements. “I spent a lot of time in the summer, between my freshman and sophomore years, working on a lot of little things … my mechanics to try and strengthen that up to make sure I’m making progress from my first year to my second year. I just want to keep getting better and I want to keep improving.”
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