FARMINGTON – Niki Nakai looks to bolster South Mountain Community College’s softball lineup on both sides after signing with the Cougars today via athletic scholarship.
The Farmington third baseman will join Piedra Vista’s Becca Goodwin playing under first-year coach Brittney Matta, who won a national championship at Arizona State University in 2008.
“(Matta) really liked that I could bring someone in (for a run). She really liked what she saw in (my defense, too),” Nakai said. “I go back to fundamentals and everything.”
Nakai also said South Mountain was drawn to the way she sets up and moves her feet when making plays on defense.
As Nakai pondered the thought of playing at SMCC, located in Phoenix, she said that she remembered she possessed a small memento from that occasion: an autographed softball with Matta’s signature on it.
Going forward, Nakai said she wants to keep cutting down on strikeout totals on the hitting end, all while increasing the number of times she puts the ball in play.
Nakai also said she wants to play quicker, getting to the ball on defense, and prevent ground balls from bouncing through the third base/shortstop gap.
“(In that) 5/6 hole, there’s a potential ball that could go through, so I just want to dive out and try to make plays,” Nakai said.
Nakai also looks to transfer to an NCAA softball program in the Arizona region after two years at SMCC, which is located in Phoenix, hopeful that Matta’s connections can aid in that.