Mascarenas, Anderson look to build on family's reputation
Cheyenne Mascarenas and Kayla Anderson are two ballplayers with some good genes. They are the cousin and niece, respectively, of U.S. national team member and Women's College World Series champion Toni Mascarenas.
Toni Mascarenas was on the U.S. national team when it won gold at the 2001 U.S. Cup tournament, and she also won an NCAA national championship in 2001 with the Arizona Wildcats. Mascarenas had influence on the softball world back then, and still does today with two athletes in particular.
"I remember when she took us to see the campus at Arizona," said Anderson. "She took us into the locker room and showed us everything!"
"She told us, 'This is what it will be like when you get here,'" added Cheyenne Mascarenas.
Both girls play for Pacifica (Garden Grove, Calif.) High School. That is the same high school that Toni attended several years earlier. So far, the girls have followed in their relative's footsteps.
"We were close growing up," said Mascarenas. "We used to watch her play when we were little."
Spending time watching Toni play ball must have rubbed off on the girls. They agree that Toni could get competitive.
"She was crazy!" laughed Mascarenas. "She was super competitive and even cocky. She hated losing."
"Yeah!" agreed Anderson. "She and my mom [Toni's sister] used to compete a lot and she always had to beat everyone, she hated losing!"
Cheyenne Mascarenas must have gotten some of that winner's mentality because she has been busy winning some games herself.
At the Faster to 1st Tournament, hosted by Canyon (Anaheim, Calif.) High School, she had a game-winning hit in extra innings to push Pacifica ahead of West Orange (Winter Garden, Fla.) High School.
"Up to bat, I was thinking that I needed to win the game for the team," Mascarenas said. "Pacifica High School softball is hardworking, everyone plays with 100 percent of their heart."
Part of the reason Toni is rubbing off on her cousin and niece is because they still spend time together.
"We both hit with her every week," Mascarenas stated.
"She helps me with recruiting once a week, too," Anderson added.
Learning from Toni has helped their game, but following in her footsteps isn't easy for the two young athletes.
"We do feel like we have to live up to a certain standard; the last name says a lot," Mascarenas said.
"Yeah, we have to make it look good!" chimed in Anderson.
Despite the pressure to live up to the standards their relative has set for them, the two infielders have learned countless lessons from Toni. Some of the advice she gave to the high school athletes remains with them and has encouraged them in the game.
"She taught me to work hard and never give up," Anderson said.
"Focus," said Mascarenas. "Don't ever be lazy."
The memories and advice Toni has provided over the years will serve as guidance for the two upperclassmen as they attempt to do exactly what Toni did -- play competitive ball in college and beyond.
Garland Cooper covers high school softball for ESPN RISE.
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