Photos courtesy of NDSU Athletics
The North Dakota State softball program is routinely going to the West Coast to snag high school recruits. The 2018 roster features four players from California. In 2016, eight players hailed from the Golden State. Stephanie Soriano and Madyson Camacho, two sophomores, have continued that California to NDSU softball pipeline.
College softball coaches spend a lot of time in the warmer states watching softball tournaments. With a state like California always being heavily recruited, there are a lot of travel teams. That’s how NDSU head coach Darren Mueller found Soriano and Camacho. Both now admit they never heard of the Bison at first. But after building a connection with Mueller and researching the school more, they found their way to a Bison commitment. Their paths on making that decision, though, were a bit different.
Soriano and Camacho grew up about 20 minutes away from each other. They didn’t know each other too well, but remember being opponents on the diamond.
Soriano visited Fargo in February and was excited to see snow on the ground. Her mom was colder and said, she would prefer if her daughter stayed in state. Soriano did have a lot of interest from bigger schools in California, including UCLA, where Soriano actually committed to during her sophomore year. Mueller told her if anything falls through to let him know. And when things did, he was the first person Soriano called and later committed to NDSU.
“I can’t even imagine what it would have been like over there,” Soriano said. “I fell in love with our culture here, our atmosphere, our coaches and everything.”
Camacho had a handful of offers on the West and East coasts. But she knew she was ready to commit to NDSU the second she left her visit in Fargo despite developing a cold after coming in November and wearing too light of a jacket.
“I really liked the atmosphere at NDSU and I liked the girls here that were on my recruiting visit,” Camacho said. “They made me feel like I was a part of the family already. That really was what made me want to come.”
The success of the Bison, who have dominated the Summit League, also excited Soriano and Camacho about coming to Fargo. But softball in North Dakota is a little different than in California. Both said combating the winter weather wasn’t too tough. Practicing softball indoors and on the turf, though, needed some adjusting.
“The weather wasn’t so much of a factor,” Soriano said. “But it was definitely different for softball because I’ve never seen a bubble on top of a field before.”
“I fell in love with our culture here, our atmosphere, our coaches and everything.” – Stephanie Soriano
Soriano, a 2017 All-Summit League Second Team member, and Camacho aren’t the first West Coast players to make that adjustment, and they won’t be the last as the California to NDSU pipeline continues to get stronger. As Camacho recalls, the Bison players from her home state made it a point to talk to her on her recruiting visit and let her know all about that pipeline.
“They made me feel super good about wanting to come here,” Camacho said. “They said they had an easy time adjusting here. I felt if they can do it, then I can do it.”
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