SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Softball senior Bella Valentine will attend school and play for Azusa Pacific program next fall. She will sign with the Cougars on Nov. 14.
"I am really excited to be playing softball at Azusa Pacific," said Valentine. "I really enjoyed the team and coaches and I can't wait to part of that and the atmosphere of the school."
Valentine has been playing softball for 13 years and had always dreamed of playing collegiate softball.
"It means a lot to me," said Valentine. "I have worked really hard and it has always been my dream to play in college since I was a little girl. To finally achieve that dream is amazing."
Valentine, who plans to study computer science, was connected with the APU staff by her hitting coach Bob Hayes. She was invited on an unofficial visit and the rest is history. She will play for Carrie Webber, who led the program to the school's first Division II postseason appearance in 2016.
Valentine has been a three-year letter winner for the St. Francis program and enters her senior season in the spring with a career .336 batting average.
"Bella will bring a strong work ethic and passion for the game of softball to the Azusa Pacific Softball program," said St. Francis Head Coach Kevin Warren. "She will hit for power and add defensive depth at first base for the Cougars. I've enjoyed coaching Bella the past 6 years because of her dedication to the team and loyalty to the coaching staff. Bella shows up early to practice and is one of the last players to leave. She is very intelligent and understands how to play the game.
She had a career-high three home runs last season including a two homer game against Monterey Trail that ranks at the top of her favorite games of her career because her grandpa was in the stands that day.
With a strong senior class and group of returning players, Valentine is ready for a big year.
"The team has been my favorite part of being with the softball program," said Valentine. "The practices are always so much fun and the games. The team chemistry is great."
She hopes to continue to work on her game in preparation for the transition to college in the fall.
"I am looking forward to working on my game and getting better," said Valentine. "I want to leave it all on the field this season."
Valentine is one of 12 Troubadours making commitments on Nov. 14 including teammates Sydney Littles (CS-East Bay) and Chloe Smith (Villanova).
"I am excited to sign in front of my family and some of my closest friends," said Valentine. "I feel like it will be huge weight off my shoulders. Everything I worked for is finally happening."
The St. Francis Signing Day Celebration will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the CLC.