SANTA FE, N.M. — When it comes to nicknames, “Jelly” just doesn’t seem the right fit for Capital softball slugger Angelica Angel.
Perhaps “Babe,” as in Babe Ruth, or “Hammerin,” as in Hank Aaron, or even “Skyhigh” to describe her prodigious blasts.
Opposing pitchers probably have a few things in mind, as well, but those likely can’t be printed here.
Whatever you want to call her, one thing is for certain – Angel is putting a serious hurting on softballs this season.
Heading into a late doubleheader Saturday against her former school, Santa Fe High, the junior infielder and pitcher was hitting a team-best .561 with a school record nine home runs and 34 RBI. Of her 37 hits, 21 have been for extra bases.
Angel leads a powerful Jaguars offense that is averaging 10 runs per game.
Unfortunately for Capital, their pitchers are giving up about 9.5 runs a game, so the Jags have a 9-11 record, 3-3 in District 5-5A.
“We have three or four girls who are at .500 or above,” said Capital coach Sig Rivera. “They’ve been hitting the ball hard, scoring a lot of runs. The only thing that’s killing us is one bad inning every game.”
Alex Hernandez is hitting .526 with 25 RBI, Emma George is hitting .513 with 30 runs and Sylvia Pincheria is at .493 with 19 RBI.
Now, the Jaguars have to sweep their final four games – including the last two against district co-leader Manzano (15-5, 6-0) next weekend – to have a chance to make it to the postseason.
It also leaves Angel with a chance to move up in the state record books. Her nine homers puts her tied for 10th among single-season leaders.
That’s not bad considering she didn’t get a chance to play last season – not even on JV – after transferring from Santa Fe. And she missed the first two varsity games this season for the same reason.
“Once she was eligible, once she showed up, she’s been a big difference for us,” Rivera said. “Her natural swing is so nice. She’s not going up there trying to hit it out. She lets the ball do the work and she follows through, and the ball takes off like a rocket.”
Angel credits Rio Rancho assistant coach Rod Mimbs with working with her on her swing.
“I started working with my batting coach again,” she said. “I worked with him before, but I didn’t really understand everything that he was telling me. But when I went back to him, I understood what he was teaching me.”
Having that break last year was tough, but it also made her appreciate her time on the diamond and more receptive to what she was being taught.
“As I got older, I started listening to him and he fixed my crazy swing,” Angel said. “He made me use all of my body, instead of just my arms or just my legs.”
As a matter of fact, her coachability is one of her best traits, Rivera said.
“Jelly listens,” he said. “She knows what it takes to go up there and really pound the ball.”
She also frequently helps out her teammates with coaching tips.
“She knows to adjust to the different pitches and she’s really been working with the other girls,” Rivera said. “She’s like another coach out there. And sometimes she even listens to herself … .”
Sitting out last spring was an extremely difficult time.
“I was so eager to get back on the field, it was killing me,” Angel said. “I had to wait until summer club ball then joined back up playing.”
Although most of her homers are no-doubters, she said she’s never quite sure she’s got enough of one to send it out.
“It’s funny, I feel not sure myself, so I run or jog to first with my head down, but when I hear the cheers and yells from everybody, then I know it’s over,” Angel said.
She heard plenty of cheers when she dropped a two-run bomb against top-ranked Rio Rancho last month.
“It’s a good feeling,” Angel said of hitting one out. “It depends on what team we’re playing. The ones that mean the most to me are against good teams like Rio Rancho. I knew they were such a good team.”
As for her future, Angel said she hopes to spur the Jaguars toward the state tournament next season and is looking for a place to play in college.
“I think she has the potential to move up and play some college ball,” Rivera said. “It’s just a matter of making the right contacts, and getting the right people to take a look at her and take a shot.”
As for that nickname, well don’t expect Jelly to disappear any time soon.
“It was my auntie, it came from here when I was little,” Angel said. “And it just stuck.”