It’s sort of second nature.
For the last 10 years, Cypress High senior Julie Adams’ life has revolved around softball.
Sure, there were other sports; four varsity letters in volleyball, three in basketball, recreational soccer . . . but there was always softball.
Adams has excelled at nearly everything she has done. She was named to two all-league teams in volleyball and basketball, and teamed with Jessica Eggleston and Susan Flaming to help Cypress to a 26-4 record and a trip to the Southern Section Division II-A basketball semifinals her junior year.
But nothing comes more naturally than softball.
“Julie has always been a hard worker,” said her father, Dennis. “She has always been talented and a natural athlete. She has had a great work ethic and wanted to be the best she could. She never liked losing.”
Until two years ago, Dennis Adams, who played baseball at Kennedy High School and Cal State Fullerton, had coached every team on which Julie played. That included three national championships with the Outlaws, an American Softball Assn. traveling team based in Huntington Beach.
But when Julie Adams was 15, she switched teams and has spent the last couple of years playing for the Gordon’s Panthers, an 18-and-under club team.
“I wanted to let her out on her own. I wanted her to have the experience without me,” Dennis Adams said. “It’s good not to have dad around all the time.”
Larry Mays, the Panthers’ coach, already had his staff in place when Adams joined. But Dennis Adams still attends his daughter’s games and spends time scouting other teams.
The Panthers are two-time defending national champions, bringing Adams’ total to five titles.
At Cypress, Adams kept winning. As a freshman, she helped the Centurions win the Southern Section Division 5-A title, hitting .270 with three home runs and 16 runs batted in as the team’s first baseman.
She moved to shortstop as a sophomore and hit .385 with four home runs and 25 RBIs. The Centurions reached the second round of the Division I playoffs.
Last season, however, Adams struggled.
“She tries to overcompensate for a lot of things she feels are missing from the team,” Coach Diane Pohl said. “She thinks she’s got to do it all and presses a little bit.”
She’s making another adjustment this season, moving to the leadoff spot in the batting order.
“She has demonstrated a high on-base percentage in the past,” Pohl said.
“I wanted to see Julie get on base and be aggressive as a base runner. (Other teams) can’t pitch around her anymore. She walked three straight times in a game last year. I’d like to see her get the chance to hit the ball.”
Adams said she has no problem making the switch.
“I think I get a better pitch selection because you don’t want to walk your first batter,” Adams said. “I feel like I might get a greater quantity of strikes.”
She’ll have another adjustment to make next season in college, but at least there’s no doubt where she’s headed. Adams will attend UCLA, ending a recruiting process that started after her sophomore year.
“I’ve saved everything through the years,” Adams said of the letters she has received from schools. “I have a rather big boxful.”
She narrowed her choices to UCLA and Arizona at the start of this school year.
“It came down to a gut feeling,” Adams said. “I’ve always wanted to go to UCLA since I was a little girl.
“After weighing the pros and cons, it is going to be the best place for me. It was the hardest decision of my life.”
The situation at UCLA next season should be ideal for Adams. The current shortstop, Nicole Odom, is a converted third baseman and this season’s third baseman is a senior.
“They recruited me for shortstop and, as long as I perform, I will most likely be playing shortstop. That is their intent for me,” Adams said.
With that decision made, Adams concentrated on other aspects of her sports career. In November, she decided to bypass her senior year of basketball after she was invited to try out for the U.S. Junior World softball team.
“I didn’t want (basketball) to hinder how I performed,” Adams said. “We were being graded on our performance. I wanted to be in the best condition I could be in.”
Adams was one of 17 girls selected from 44 to represent the United States in the 18-and-under tournament in Normal, Ill., the last week in May. The tournament, which takes place every four years, includes teams from 13 countries.
“If I would have played basketball,” she said, “there was always the chance I could get hurt and not get to try out.”
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The county’s top softball players, as chosen by three area coaches.
Rank Name School 1T Marcy Crouch Marina 1T Brandee McArthur Villa Park 3 Kathy Ponce Ocean View 4 Toni Mascarenas Pacifica 5 Lisa Pitt Kennedy
Rank Name School Pos. 1 Michelle Churnock Foothill SS 2 Julie Adams Cypress SS 3T Michelle Schneider Los Alamitos SS 3T Lindsey Collins Fountain Valley C 5 Lynette Velazquez Marina 1B 6 Heather Williams Marina C 7 Kelly Hauxhirst Westminster OF 8T Kelli Bruce El Toro C 8T Lisa Tully Mater Dei SS/3B 10 Lauren Bauer Foothill OF