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June 20, 2021

Softball: Senior captains are all business

Callee Heen and Suzy Brookshire have been standouts on the San Benito High softball team since their sophomore seasons. Bursting with potential from an early age, the two have fulfilled their talent and then some. Madisyn Gutierrez-Urban has become a game-changer with much less fanfare, although conventional wisdom says that will change soon.
The three senior captains set the tempo and tone for the Haybalers, who are coming off a season in which they won a ninth Central Coast Section Division I championship. Balers coach Andrew Barragan said the team is in good hands with this dynamic trio. Brookshire bats third in the lineup, Heen fourth and Gutierrez-Urban anywhere from fifth to seventh.
“They come to practice and take care of business,” Barragan said. “Maddy is very smart at the plate and very disciplined. She’ll come back to the dugout and give feedback to the players on what’s going on. Suzy is a high-caliber player in all aspects of the game. She has a great eye, and she’ll never get cheated at the plate. Callee is a beast, man. She adjusts to situations very well, and she’s definitely a leader. She sets the tone for us out in the field.”
In a 17-9 win over Salinas on Tuesday, Brookshire had one of the greatest single-game performances in school history. The senior catcher belted three home runs—two that might still be going—and finished 4 for 5 with four runs scored and six RBIs.
Heen also smacked a mammoth home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. A year ago at this time, Brookshire wasn’t even practicing, as she was recovering from a bout with mononucleosis. Heen had her own health issues dealing with a sore shoulder.
By the end of the season, however, the two—they both can play multiple positions, including shortstop and catcher—were a demolition wrecking crew. Especially Brookshire, who was a legitimate threat to hit a home run every time she stepped in the batter’s box. Fully healthy to start the season, Heen and Brookshire have began their assault on opposing pitchers.
Gutierrez-Urban, who is coming off a breakout junior season, is looking to get in rhythm. The first baseman ranked third on the team last year with 25 RBIs, developing into a consistent producer. Gutierrez-Urban has never felt more confident in her abilities and overall work ethic.
“I feel more comfortable this year because I know what I did last year,” she said. “I know I still want to get better and need to get better. I still need to make a name for myself.”
Heen has seen how hard Gutierrez-Urban has worked to get to this point.
“Maddy has worked her butt off to be a captain,” Heen said. “We’ve all come a long way.”
Indeed, all three captains worked diligently in the off-season to improve their games, knowing they would need to be that much better to lead the Balers to another potential section title. Mentally and physically, Heen and Brookshire have never felt better.
“Being healthy makes a big difference,” Brookshire said. “I feel like I’ve gotten smarter from last year because of travel ball, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this team can do.”
Before last weekend, San Benito had played in just two games because of rainouts.
But the Balers have 18 games in April, a glut of contests that will surely test the team’s resiliency. Brookshire will catch the majority of the team’s games, but when the team has to play three games in one day like it will do in the Watsonville Tournament on April 23, Barragan plans to use Heen at catcher as well.
Catchers take a beating behind the plate, so it’s nice the Balers have multiple players who are capable of playing the position. San Benito’s terrific trio are all-around talents who excel in every facet of the game: hitting, fielding, running, hitting for average and hitting for power.
They’ll be especially helpful to sophomore pitcher Amanda Moisa, who was on the junior varsity squad last year. Moisa’s development will play a prominent role into whether or not the Balers advance to another CCS championship game. If Moisa can pitch well to Brookshire, Heen and Gutierrez-Urban in practice, she’ll have success because there probably isn’t a better trio of hitters on one team in the section.
“I would want her (Amanda) to be on the same page with Andrew and want her to understand the situation at hand,” Brookshire said. “I want her to know what the hitters can or can’t hit, and to be able to throw to her location.”
Heen knows being one of the captains on the team carries a big responsibility.
“We have to make sure we all stay on the same page,” she said. “We’ve got to set a good example. We’re coming together, and I’m confident we’ll play well together.”

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