Senior stories

After injury, Rickenbach cashing in on senior year

By Alex Rivera, Staff Writer

 

From Provo to Pleasant Grove to Utah Valley to wherever his life takes him, Jake Rickenbach is going to say goodbye to the Wolverines after five years playing in a Wolverines uniform.

 

Rickenbach was born in Provo, Utah, but started his baseball career by prepping at Pleasant Grove High School. His junior and senior years at the school were very successful. He sported a batting average of .408 and an on-base percentage of .526.

 

He continued his great offense in college when he came to UVU in 2008. In three straight seasons, he batted over .300, progressively getting better every year (.302, .322, .390 in the first three seasons). Rickenbach’s junior year was his highlight year as he was able to lead the nation in runs per game (1.51), was fourth in the nation in runs overall (86) and led his team in base-on-balls (40). He gives credit to his coach for his success at UVU.

 

“[Head] Coach [Eric] Madsen has taught me everything on how to be a great baseball player,” Rickenbach said. “He taught me how to be a winner.”

 

Rickenbach was out all of last year due to injury, and this year wasn’t easy for the shortstop.

 

“It’s always tough being injured,” Rickenbach said. “I wanted to be on that field last year, but I’m just glad I was able to come back this year.”

 

Speaking of this year, Rickenbach is having a year that may be rewarded by being Comeback Player of the Year at the end of the season. Once again, he is batting well over .300 and already has over 30 runs batted in. But his individual statistics do not really matter to him as he looks forward to what may be a milestone year for the Wolverines.

 

“You never know what they [NCAA] look at,” Rickenbach said when asked about their chances for a playoff berth. “But I think this year we have a good shot. I think we have a good chance because we have the will to compete and the will to win. That’s what it all comes down to.”

 

The Wolverines have proven themselves this season, having defeated two nationally ranked teams in Arizona State and Arizona, the latter victory at home.

 

“That’s my proudest moment,” said Rickenbach.

 

With the year coming to an end, Rickenbach receives one cap and gown, but he will soon let go of another cap he has worn for five years now.

 

“It feels good to be graduating soon, but at the same time it’s sad to know the end is near.”

 

As to where his life will take him, he’s letting fate decide.

 

“That’s always a goal, to play in the Majors,” Rickenbach said. “I’d love to play, but if I don’t, I’ve had a good run.”

 

 

Perez goes from anti-Utah to UVU Alumni

By Kevin Olsen, Sports Writer

 

It didn’t matter where Amanda Perez played softball. She would have learned something along the way. But after going to Utah Valley University to show her talents on the field, she found something unique about Utah and UVU’s softball program that helped her learn how to receive what she wants.

 

Now the senior from La Mirada, Calf., is wrapping up a career that almost didn’t happen in Utah. After learning about Utah from a high school friend who had been accepted into BYU, Perez swore she’d never come to the snowy state.

 

A recruiting trip one year later would change all of that.

 

“I’m going to miss the snow, the mountains and my friends.” Perez said. “They are all out here. I am going to miss softball too. I know that I will wake up some days wishing that I could go play.”

 

No longer will Perez face the challenge of new opponents, teams or conferences. No more worrying about the weather during practice or amount of homework to be done the next day. Now she faces the adjustments to life after softball.

 

“My whole life was set to get a scholarship through softball so I can gain an education,” Perez said. “I did that, so now I need to set new goals.”

 

It’s a challenge that Perez is ready to face. Her preparations came through the discipline on UVU’s softball team  and from the leadership of head coach Todd Fairbourne. Perez expressed thatboth influences have helped her become a better person not just on the field, but also in life.

 

“I’ve changed a lot and I am more responsible,” Perez said. “I now know that I have to be mentally tough as a person and I have to fight for what I want. My school work has improved here and I’ve wanted to become a better student.”

 

Never mind that Perez led her team in doubles, homers and RBI’s during not only her sophomore year, but her junior year as well. Never mind that early this season she hit three home runs that led to seven RBI’s against LMU and conference Player of the Week honors. It’s the leadership that Perez has learned that will take her where she wants to go in her future.

 

“I have always had leaders in front of me,” Perez said. “But now I have taken on more of a leadership role. I am more independent and I have a voice of my own.”

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