Softball: Monteon a precocious talent

Balers freshman Dominique Monteon has made a verbal commitment to play softball at the University of North Carolina.

Dominique Monteon already knows where she’ll be playing softball in college—and she hasn’t even played a game in high school. On Jan. 24, the San Benito High freshman made a verbal commitment to play softball at the University of North Carolina, a school that ranks high both for athletics and academics.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Monteon, who is the daughter of Joe Monteon, the assistant coach at San Benito. “I’m very thankful and honored that this could happen, and sometimes it’s still hard to believe.”
No kidding. Monteon is believed to be the youngest athlete in school history to commit to a Division I program. Monteon represents a small slice of today’s growing trend where big-time college programs offer scholarships to teen athletes at an early age.
In fact, Joe Monteon said an increasing number of eighth graders are being offered scholarships by college softball programs. Dominique Monteon has combined a preternatural talent—she only started playing the sport four years ago—with an indefatigable work ethic to become a prized Division I prospect.
The 5-foot-4 Monteon started to gain attention after playing well in a couple of showcase tournaments last fall in Southern California with her traveling club team, the California Suncats. The North Carolina coaches invited Monteon for an unofficial visit on Jan. 15 and 16, and she played in a camp on the 17th.
Monteon made the verbal commitment on Jan. 24, four days after UNC made its scholarship offer. In terms of academics and athletics, it’s hard to top UNC, a school that is synonymous with a rich men’s basketball legacy. But the Tar Heels have a pretty storied softball program as well, finishing 37-16 last year under legendary coach Donna Papa, who ranks seventh all time among active Division I coaches in career wins.
“I was honored so many schools looked at me,” said Monteon, who also received a scholarship offer from Sacramento State. “I fell in love with the school, the campus, the coaches. I was more excited than nervous when I made the call (to coach Papa) and said yes to the offer.”
It was an emotional moment for the Monteon family; Joe obviously did a standup job in placing Dominique in the right tournaments with the right coaches at the right time. It all culminated with a scholarship offer from a big-time program.
“She almost started crying when she accepted the offer,” Joe said. “She was shaking and hugged us.”
Dominique then called former Balers coach Scott Smith, who has been her hitting coach for the last two years, and Andrew Barragan, the current San Benito softball coach and owner of Blackjacks, the place where Monteon has spent many hours honing her hitting skills.
“Scott has been able to use every part of her body on her swing, and it’s made a big difference,” Joe said.
Barragan also coached Monteon when she played for the Hollister Heat four years ago. Monteon, who bats right and throws right-handed, was coveted for her strong swing, quick bat speed and power. The second baseman also plays solid defense and is able to cover a lot of ground in the field.
Monteon grew up playing basketball and soccer, but found her true calling when she started playing softball with her friends at age 10. Monteon grew up idolizing Suzy Brookshire, the San Benito High senior catcher who has put up two of the greatest offensive seasons in the history of the proud Haybalers softball program.
And like Brookshire, Monteon might serve as a role model for the future generation of San Benito softball standouts.

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