Suzy Brookshire, left, Adriana Ibarra and Callee Heen form one of the most potent trios in the Central Coast Section.
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In its rich and storied history, the San Benito High softball program has had countless players who could be qualified as great at the high school level.
This season, the Haybalers have a trio of players—senior Adriana Ibarra and juniors Callee Heen and Suzy Brookshire—perhaps unlike any other trio on one team in program history.
San Benito, which is looking to reclaim a Central Coast Section playoff championship after having its eight-year title run end last season, can count on its Big Three to deliver offensively, defensively and in Ibarra’s case, in the circle.
The left-handed Ibarra, a San Jose State-signee, was the ace and leadoff hitter last season. All Ibarra did was pitch with tremendous consistency—she had just one or two subpar pitching performances all season—while hitting .422 with an OPS of 1.069.
Brookshire, a junior catcher who made a verbal commitment to Sacramento State before her sophomore year, had a breakthrough 2014 season after playing sparingly as a freshman.
Brookshire had six home runs, 29 RBI, hit .493, with an on-base percentage of .580, a slugging percentage of 1.045 and a robust OPS of 1.625. Heen, a junior shortstop who made a verbal commitment to Hawaii-Manoa before her sophomore year, put up one of the top-three statistical seasons in school history.
Check out these numbers: Heen had an incredible 11 home runs and 42 RBI, a .623 average, .659 on-base percentage, slugged 1.247 and had an OPS of 1.906. Even more impressive, Heen struck out just three times in 77 at-bats.
She also walked nine times—a three to one walk-to-strikeout ratio—which would qualify any hitter as Hall of Fame worthy in softball and baseball. So what can the Big Three do for an encore?
Win a CCS championship. The Balers were attempting to win a section-tying record ninth consecutive title a year ago only to get routed by Carlmont, 8-1.
“It still really bothers me walking around school, thinking about how I could’ve changed the outcome of that game,” Brookshire said. “I hate that feeling, to be honest.”
Ibarra and Heen feel the same way. They’re constantly reminded of last year’s defeat.
“Any time we’re on the softball field, it’s hard not to think about it,” Heen said.
Said Ibarra: “We’re training not only for ourselves, but for the team. We explain to the girls that a few mistakes can change the outcome of a big game.”
The Big Three have found success by not taking things for granted. They don’t spend a ton of time analyzing their impressive statistics—in fact, Heen said she didn’t even know any of her numbers until a reporter brought it up to her—which gives her a mindset to always improve.
“I don’t pay any attention to my stats,” Heen said. “Stats don’t really mean much. The important thing is to work on all of the things that will make you improve.”
Ibarra has a practical reason for not focusing on her numbers: “I feel looking at stats puts more stress on you.”
Out of the trio, Brookshire would be considered the late-bloomer. Brookshire said she was an above average player until she started training with longtime Balers coach Scott Smith with Central Coast Athletics a couple of years ago.
“I’ve had some pretty good coaches who helped me get to a certain point, but I needed Scott to get me to D-I,” she said. “There was no way I could go off the skill I had before and get to the D-I level. I was always super slow, got my bat on the ball sometimes and my throwing was kind of horrible. But hours upon hours of training has made me better in every part of the game.”
Indeed, Brookshire possesses a rifle for an arm behind the plate, and her plate approach has become meticulous. All three players played for different traveling club teams in the offseason—Brookshire at CCA, Heen with the Salinas Storm and Ibarra with the San Jose Sting—and each focused sharply on improvement.
Brookshire worked on her skills behind the plate, including picking runners off first base and framing pitches. Ibarra and Heen also know what it’s like to play catcher, because that’s the position they’ll both play in college.
Ibarra and Heen said they did a lot of work off the tee and front toss, where they hit balls that are thrown with pitchers just a couple of feet in front of them, which aids hitters in their timing.
Ibarra and Heen have known each other since they were 6, playing together on the Hollister Heat softball teams for four years until they went their separate ways with different traveling teams.
However, they were reunited once again at San Benito High, and recently completed a solid season on a girls basketball team that advanced to the CCS Division I quarterfinals.
On the field, Ibarra and Heen communicate well and help each other out.
“We talk about what we did wrong and what we could do better in certain situations,” Heen said.
The Big Three play a leadership role in that the rest of their teammates look up to them to set a good example. Leadership comes in many forms, including work ethic. To that end, you’d be hard-pressed to find a trio that works harder than this one.
“On defense, we have to be loud and be a voice on the field,” Heen said.
Said Ibarra: “We still have a lot of girls who are getting used to the varsity tempo, so it’s nice having a coach who can spot even the small details.”
In her final season, Ibarra wants to go out the way her older sister, Marisa, went out in a Baler uniform: on top. A little over nine weeks from now, the Big Three will have a chance to further stamp their legacy on one of the best programs in Northern California.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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