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Alicia Orosco primed to lead Stony Brook softball’s offense to promised land

Center fielder Alicia Orosco (left) squares to bunt in practice on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Orosco is hoping to have a great final season with the Stony Brook softball team. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Coming off a breakout season at the top of the Stony Brook softball team’s order, center fielder Alicia Orosco is set to do massive things in her farewell year.

Born and raised in Stockton, Calif., Orosco traveled across the nation to become the star center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Seawolves. Though she did not pick the sport up until the age of 10, Orosco is now as dangerous a tablesetter as there is in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA). With her fourth and final season with Stony Brook about to get underway, Orosco is set to be one of the key pieces in the team’s hopeful championship run in 2024.

Orosco has come a long way since her days as a 10-year-old playing travel softball with her dad, Frank, coaching her. He was a devoted athlete himself, playing baseball growing up before taking up competitive adult softball in a 40-and-under league. Her father’s passion for the sport rubbed off on her, ultimately helping her find her calling.

At first, she was a little too passionate. Orosco struggled with the idea of failure in softball. She longed to be perfect, wanting to get on base every time she got up to the plate.

“Being a perfectionist isn’t the best thing,” Orosco said in an interview with The Statesman. “When I was younger, it was a lot more severe. I’m very competitive, and I don’t like to be bad at anything.”

She figured out early on that softball was her future. At just 12 years old, she set her sights on receiving a college softball scholarship.

The inspiration for the decision came from her parents and their dedication.

“My parents always told me if you want to play a sport, you have to put your all into it,” Orosco said.

On the side, Orosco ran track in elementary school and picked it back up in high school. Her days spent as a runner helped her become the speedster she is today. During her 11th grade season, her varsity softball team went into a rebuild with a new coach and a myriad of new players, some of whom had never played softball before. Rather than stunt her development on a team in flux, Orosco committed to running for the varsity girl’s track team at Saint Mary’s High School so she could come back even faster for her final season.

Running track not only helped her roam the basepaths and the outfield more efficiently, but it also made her a more effective slap hitter. Her opponents had no way of throwing her out once she put the ball in play, putting her on the radar of several NCAA Division I schools.

All the while, Orosco continued to tear it up in travel ball with the California Grapettes. While competing in a tournament with them in Colorado, she met Stony Brook University head coach Megan Bryant, who has brought in several recruits from the state before. However, during this particular recruiting showcase, Bryant found a California girl she liked instead.

Meeting Bryant changed everything for Orosco, who initially had no plans of leaving the West Coast.

“I knew that I couldn’t pass up this opportunity,” Orosco said. “I loved the people and the coaches. I knew that I would be safe and that I was going to become such a great player if I came here.”

Orosco committed to Stony Brook before her senior year of high school began. However, during the summer of 2019, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee, setting her way back. Luckily for her, several months of grueling rehab and a quick recovery had her ready by the start of her senior season with Saint Mary’s varsity team.

Orosco got off to a blazing start in the spring of 2020, going 9-for-16 with a pair of doubles through the first six games. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a premature end to her high school softball career and wasted her speedy comeback from ACL reconstruction.

Though the pandemic spoiled Orosco’s heroic finish to high school, it taught her how to deal with adversity.

“I had worked so hard to get cleared for that high school season, and then it got cut short,” Orosco said. “So that was pretty hard for me. I think that year taught me a lot; it taught me how to persevere.”

Later that summer, when she left home and arrived on Stony Brook’s campus, she dealt with a lot of difficulties. Social distancing regulations forced her to be isolated from her teammates, and strictly-virtual classes ruined her college introduction. It did not get much easier in the springtime when the season began.

With former star center fielder Jourdin Hering — one of the greatest leadoff hitters in program history — back for a fifth year, Orosco would have needed to play in left or right to see the field. However, the corner outfield spots went to Shauna Nuss — who was third on the team with a .284 batting average — and Julianna Sanzone, who batted over .300 as a rookie.

Orosco was left with a very limited role, appearing in 19 games but starting only nine of them. Oftentimes, she was used as a pinch runner or a late-game defensive replacement. She struggled in the few chances she received, going just 2-for-25 at the plate with no runs batted (RBI) or extra-base hits.

Orosco understood her lack of playing time and used it as motivation to get better.

“It’s a great learning experience,” Orosco said. “It just makes you want to work for it that much harder and it pushes you that much harder in practice every day.”

By her sophomore season, her hard work was finally realized. She earned the opening day starting spot in center field while also taking the leadoff role in the order.

She made a good impression, starting all 47 of the Seawolves’ games and batting .270 while crossing the plate 32 times for the highest-scoring offense in the America East Conference. She sparkled defensively, making only two errors while also throwing a pair of runners out from center field. She even made an impact on the basepaths, stealing nine bases in 11 attempts.

Playing with a chip on her shoulder from her bad freshman year, Orosco knew she had to make the most of the opportunity presented to her.

“After all the struggles I went through in my freshman year I was so determined … to prove that this is what I could do all along,” Orosco said. “There was absolutely nothing holding me back from achieving what I wanted to achieve.”

Once Stony Brook moved to the CAA, her upward trajectory continued and she officially reached stardom. Last year, her slap-hitting ability and fleet feet were displayed at an even greater level to the tune of a .346 batting average, 10 doubles and two triples. She also drove in 20 runs while scoring another 34, which were the second most on the team.

Orosco replicated her stolen base numbers in 2022, swiping nine bags in 11 attempts. In center field, she got even better, committing only one error in 80 chances while starting all of the team’s 56 games.

With Orosco setting the Seawolves’ table, they finished as the second-highest scoring offense in the CAA as a newcomer. When leading off for this dangerous offense, Orosco knows she does not need to bring power but rather do what she does best to help the team win.

“I’m willing to do anything to get on base,” Orosco said. “I don’t care about home runs … I’m just trying to be effective in scoring runs and getting on base is just an added plus.”

Off the field, Orosco is a psychology major and plans on going to nursing school after graduating this spring. She has represented her team well in the classroom, earning herself a spot on the Spring 2023 CAA Honor Roll.

Orosco is not done elevating her game just yet. Other than looking for a higher batting average, more runs and more steals, Stony Brook’s stud center fielder spent this offseason working on the mental side of the game.

A self-described perfectionist, Orosco is trying to be precisely not that this year.

“[Failure] just comes with playing the sport,” Orosco said. “I learned how to put [failure] in its place and move forward.”

With Stony Brook’s 2024 season just over a week away, look for Orosco to be the catalyst in its hopeful championship run.

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