MCKINLEYVILLE, CA (KIEM) – Mack Softball is Section Champions for the first time in over 30 Seasons. McKenzie Gonsalves and the Panthers jumped out of Del Norte’s shadow. The Warriors knocked off McKinleyville in the semifinals last season via a walk-off. As Leon Purvis reports, the future Corsair leaves behind an untouchable legacy.
McKinleyville softball just completed its best season since 1988. They won a League and HDN Tournament Title. Now they’re NCS Champions. The cornerstone of the Panthers accomplishments are because of senior starting pitcher McKenzie Gonsalves.
“Yeah, you definitely have a lot of the pressure on you, [because] every play is based off of your pitch. So, its stressful,” said McKenzie Gonsalves, Redwood News Athlete of the Week.
Gonsalves started pitching with her dad in the 6th grade. He pushed her to learn the game of softball. It was something she wasn’t too excited about back then. But now, its her passion.
“I was young, wasn’t feeling it. Knew there was running, wasn’t really my thing. But, hey now I love it. So you never know,” said Gonsalves.
Gonsalves pitched on varsity all four of her years. Head Coach Shanna McCracken has seen her pitching ACE grow since she took on the team four years ago.
“She trusts her teammates, and they trust her. She’s defiantly a leader whether she likes it or not when she’s in the circle,” said Shanna McCracken, Head Coach of McKinleyville Softball Team.
Gonsalves enjoyed success in the circle but she knows she couldn’t have done it without her teammates.
“We’re here for each other. I’m here for them. When I’m in the circle, and things get tough, I know they’re behind me. And that’s what drives me to do better and push myself further,” said Gonsalves.
Gonsalves graduates high school in just a few weeks. Next up is College of the Redwoods where she’ll play for Corsairs Softball.
“CR, save money. And I have the opportunity to play the sport I love with my friends and my teammates. Its hard to pass that up,” said Gonsalves.
Coach McCracken does have some parting words for the starting pitcher.
“She’s just a very strong girl, and very stubborn. That’s what makes her so great. I couldn’t be prouder to coach her and have her in this program for four years,” said McCracken.
If you have any nominees in mind get a hold via our social media platforms or email Sports@Redwoodnews.tv. This segment is sponsored by Lisa Fryrear from State Farm Insurance.