Some things in life just come naturally. For senior Sandra Alvarez, it’s softball. Her father, Frank Alvarez, was a shortstop who played for the University of Miami as well as in the minor leagues, and her brother Erik is a first baseman at the University of Southern Illinois. While her father was known for his quick glove, his friends constantly remind him that his daughter has the better bat. With Sandra Alvarez’s clutch hitting early in this 2004 season, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for her to father argue with his critics.
Alvarez showed offensive promise as a freshman on the 2001 team that captured the Ivy crown. She also brought versatility to the Red, playing in the infield and outfield as well as taking some swings at DH. Early in her career, Alvarez’s talent, while abundant, was raw and needed refinement. Although fearless in the batter’s box, she needed to learn patience at the plate.
“She used to chase the rise and chase anything upstairs, making her a strikeout liability,” said head coach Dick Blood.
As a testament to her unyielding perserverance, Alvarez did not give up at the plate. She worked diligently in the batting cages until she had transformed herself from an aggressive, strikeout prone rookie to a discerning, clutch-hitting veteran. Alvarez is now a more potent hitter downstairs, and she cut her strikeouts in half last season. In doing so, she’s become a major catalyst for the team, igniting many a rally for the Red.
“I feel really comfortable up there,” Alvarez said. “It’s really nice to be able to step up and come through for the team when they need you.”
Alvarez is batting .304 for Cornell this season with three doubles and six RBI. One of those doubles came last weekend against Drexel that brought to life a Cornell offense that has been dormant for much of the weekend.
“I’m a swinger, a very aggressive swinger,” Alvarez said. “I’m not going for home runs. When people are on base, I just like to be able to bring them in.”
Not only has Alvarez proven clutch at the plate for the Red, she has also shown herself to be team leader, inspiring the players around her with her constant enthusiasm and love of the game.
“I’ve never been like a star of the team,” Alvarez said. “I consider myself more of a vocal leader than a physical skill leader. I don’t think people look up to me necessarily for my physical skills as much as they look up to me for my leadership skills.”
While Alvarez may be modest in assessing her role on the team, Blood is much quicker to sing her praises.
“Sandra has a passion for the game. She loves the game of baseball and she loves the game of softball,” he said. “She exudes that never give up, never say die attitude whenever she comes to the field. She’s one of our leaders.”
Now in her last year with the team, Alvarez hopes she can end her career like she began it, with an Ivy League championship. Whatever the outcome, Alvarez has already won the respect and admiration of her teammates and coach, and truly earned her role as a team leader.
Archived article by Paul Testa