Fresno State left fielder Kapri Angotti dashes toward first base after connecting on a softball pitch. One of Angotti’s lessons taught under head coach Trisha Ford was to “hit the ball and run.” Photo by Geoff Thurner/The Collegian
When the Fresno State softball team celebrates Senior Day on Sunday, one Bulldog outfielder will remember her time as on the diamond as what almost wasn’t.
When Kapri Angotti finished her two seasons at Fresno City College in 2012, she hung up her cleats. Despite her love for softball, she did not see herself going any further than that.
Sure, she was a big Fresno State softball fan, but that’s all she saw herself. She practically grew up at Bulldog Diamond. As a Clovis native, she remembers her time in the stands and watching players she felt were larger than life.
“I watched Jamie Southern pitch here, and she was like God to me,” she said. “She’s one that I remember, because I liked to pitch when I was younger.
“I saw every player as a legend, so I was like, ‘I’ll never be good enough here.’ I figured these girls that go here are naturally born athletes. I thought I needed to learn more that I hadn’t yet, so I thought I wasn’t at the full potential I needed to be here.”
Then she heard of legendary Fresno State head coach Margie Wright’s retirement in 2012 and figured there was going to be an open spot on the Fresno State squad. She contacted the new coach, Trisha Ford, to ask about tryouts.
After Ford confirmed there would be tryouts, Angotti decided to put the cleats back on. However, she kept it a secret.
“I didn’t tell anyone,” she said, “because if I didn’t make it, I didn’t want to have to tell anyone I didn’t make it.”
Two seasons later, Angotti is staring toward the crowd at Bulldog Diamond from her spot in left field. In three different schools at which she has played, she has covered all of the outfield positions.
She began her early softball career in center field. She played that position at Clovis High School, where she led the Cougars in at-bats, runs, hits, triples, stolen bases and batting average her senior year.
When she went to Fresno City College, she got a taste of left field. But coaches noticed that she had a quicker release of the softball – something that could be useful in turning outfield hits to outs. The coach then moved Angotti to right field, where she used her skill to nab runners at first base.
But Angotti didn’t find the move challenging. Instead, her experience in center field made covering the rest of the outfield a lot easier, and it opened her possibilities of making the Bulldogs.
“Wherever you need me, I’ll play,” she remembers telling Coach Ford.
She saw her production surface in her first Fresno State at-bat. With Fresno State down 7-4 to the University of San Diego in Santa Barbara, Calif., Angotti stepped into the batter’s box and tapped a single to shortstop. She would later make it as far as third base before the inning ended.
She ended the 2013 season with a .323 batting average, the best in the Fresno State starting lineup.
Careerwise, she has a .273 average, 14 RBIs and .311 on-base percentage. In conference games this year, she is fourth on the team in batting (.379) and has stolen two bases.
And now, she is in the middle of a very important final series. The Colorado State Rams are knocking on the door to first place, and Fresno State is looking to keep it tightly latched when they come to town this weekend.
In addition, Wright will return for the renaming ceremony – from Bulldog Diamond to Margie Wright Diamond – that precedes Saturday’s contest.
For Angotti, Senior Day will mean that she has achieved a goal that she did not know she had. She went from being a child in the stands to signing autographs for children after games and serving as a mentor to her teammates.
And after her time in Fresno, she plans on moving to San Diego to pursue a career in sports event planning.
“I’ve been around sports my whole life, and I love it,” she said. “I’m slowly learning. It’s kind of hard to get experience when I don’t have time to work. I think I can be good, because I know a lot about sports.”
And when asked what sport she would lean to in her career path, the answer was a no-brainer:
“Softball and baseball, because I know more about it.”