Nicole Pendley continued to add to her list of accolades last week when the recent Rio Rancho High School graduate was named the Gatorade New Mexico Softball Player of the Year.
She is the second Rams softball player to earn the award: Brittany Burnet became the first RRHS athlete to be tabbed a Gatorade state winner, back in 2001. Pendley is the first RRHS Gatorade athlete of the year for the state since Megan Muñiz won the award for basketball in 2009, the seventh Ram overall and the 11th Rio Rancho student-athlete to earn state Gatorade honors.
Previously tabbed as the All-Metro Softball Player of the Year by the Albuquerque Journal and the Rio Rancho Sports Advisory Council’s Athlete of the Year, she was in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” in its June 2 issue for her dual state titles won on Saturday, May 14: one for throwing the javelin a state-record 142 feet and one as a part of the state-championship softball team.
The 5-foot-5 senior left-handed pitcher and center fielder owned a 21-2 record and a 2.01 ERA in the circle, along with a .582 batting average, 14 home runs and 50 RBIs. A three-time All-State first-team selection, she also had 14 doubles, seven triples and 22 stolen bases.
“Pendley is impossible to get out,” said West Mesa softball coach Jimmy Hernandez. “Even if you don’t put the ball in the strike zone, she can still hit it out. She dominates at whatever she does. It’s an easy sport when you have that kind of talent.”
Pendley has maintained a B average in the classroom and, as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, volunteered locally on behalf of youth sports programs.
She recently signed a national letter of intent to attend and play softball at the University of Oklahoma, where she’ll be a teammate of her sister, Shelby.