Newport Harbor High softball junior Bella Secaira has verbally committed to the University of Utah, she said Tuesday.
Secaira, a catcher, was last year's Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Player of the Year. She had an area-best .450 batting average and 28 runs batted in for the Sailors (13-16). A team captain and first-team All-Sunset League selection, she helped Newport Harbor win the silver bracket at the Costa Mesa tournament and also win the La Quinta tournament.
In June, she also survived a 30-foot fall from an apartment building despite suffering a spinal cord fracture, collapsed lung and a slight concussion. But Secaira, ever the hard worker, rehabilitated faster than expected and was cleared to play softball again in September.
She said she fell in love with Utah during an unofficial visit in November. She watched the Utes football team beat UCLA.
"The coach [Amy Hogue], the way she was talking to me, I honestly couldn't wait to play for her," Secaira said. "The fact that she picks girls that are not just good players but good people, I loved that. That's what it's all about."
Secaira said three of her club teammates from Firecrackers have also committed to Utah, including Edison junior pitcher Sammy Cordova.
Secaira knows the fact that Utah softball recently joined the Pac-12 presents a challenge. Programs like UCLA and Arizona are perennial powerhouses, and Arizona State won the national championship last year.
"It's going to be hard, but I'm up for it," Secaira said. "I can't wait."
— Matt Szabo