Softball: Cortez, Rossi set the pace

Brittnee Rossi, left, and Chloe Cortez are best friends and the Nos. 1 and 2 hitters in the lineup for the San Benito High softball team.

Brittnee Rossi and Chloe Cortez are the Nos. 1 and 2 hitters in the lineup for the San Benito High softball team, the table setters who get on base in front of potent hitters and Division I-signees Callee Heen and Suzy Brookshire. Rossi and Cortez display a calmness at the plate, belying the normal struggles players go through when they first take up a sport.
Rossi, a junior center fielder, and Cortez, a sophomore right fielder, worked extremely hard to become starters on one of the premier programs in the Central Coast Section. The Haybalers were 15-2 overall and 7-1 in the Monterey Bay League’s Gabilan Division entering Thursday’s game against Gilroy.
Early in Rossi’s career, Hollister Heat coach George Ramirez switched Rossi around to bat left-handed to take advantage of her speed. While the move turned out to be a great one, Rossi had to persevere and be resilient as she made the adjustment.
“It was pretty scary because I didn’t have that confidence on the left side as I did from the right,” Rossi said. “I was scared I wasn’t going to get better. It was very difficult to do, but I eventually got there.”
Cortez has also become mentally tougher through with experience. A year ago, Cortez went to the plate thinking about a worst-case scenario. This season, Cortez has done a 180-degree turn with her mental approach.
“There is not a worst-case possibility any more,” she said. “Things are different this year. I’ve looked at how Suzy plays and handles everything. She’s not cocky, but she’s confident and really calm. That’s how I’m trying to approach the game.”
Rossi and Cortez happen to be best friends, having grown up playing together for the Heat and later for the Salinas Storm traveling club organization. Their mutual love for the game gave them an instant connection.
“Chloe is very passionate about softball, and she has a very good mindset in the way she approaches the game,” Rossi said. “I admire her for that.”
For Cortez, it took her a little longer to warm up to her now best friend.
“I remember meeting Brittnee and not liking her,” Cortez said. “I thought she didn’t care about being out there on the field, but I realized she was so passionate about playing the game. I knew from there this girl had to be my best friend.”
Best friends can hang out with each other without needing a specific activity to occupy their time, and Rossi and Cortez are no different.
“We’ll hang out on weekends and talk about softball,” Rossi said. “Even if we do nothing together, that’s perfectly fine with us—we can do that.”
Both players are downright passionate about the sport.
“If I’m having a bad day, I still want to be out there playing,” Cortez said. “If I’m having a great day, I want to be out there. I never not want to be out there.”
Rossi is one of the quickest players in the section, able to get from the batter’s box to first base in what seems to be a blink of an eye. Cortez has produced at key moments in the season.
In a critical 3-1 win over Notre Dame-Salinas on April 12, Cortez went 2 for 4 with a run scored and RBI. Entering the week, Rossi had a team-high 31 hits, 21 runs scored while ranking among the club leaders in average (.544), on-base percentage (.559), slugging (.684) and OPS (1.244).
Cortez ranks third on the team in RBIs with 14, trailing only Brookshire and Heen. Cortez also has a .392 average, .404 on-base percentage, .549 slugging percentage and .953 OPS. Both players have become difference-makers at the top of the lineup, all the more important since they have Brookshire and Heen behind them.
Neither player is known for their power, but Cortez hit an inside-the-park home run at Salinas’ cavernous field on April 21. Cortez said it was her first home run ever.
“After I slid into home plate, I got up and saw Callee and Suzy,” she said. “I kind of didn’t believe it, because they’re usually driving me in and this time I drove myself in.”
Rossi and Cortez both have similar goals, knowing their improvement will go a long way in determining whether or not San Benito can repeat as CCS Division I champions.
“I want to be that one person who is reliable who can get a hit and score runs,” Cortez said. “I just want to do my job and help the team win.”
Said Rossi: “I’ve taken charge of my mindset. It’s about getting better in practice every single day, whether it’s mentally or physically.”
It’s that type of attitude that has the Balers in contention for yet another section title.

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