The Transition from JUCO to NCAA Division I Softball

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UVU softball’s Kori Barrios adjusts her game to the Division I level

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Tim Castaneda | Sports Writer | @xTIMBOxSLICEx

Many JUCO athletes who take their game to the next level in NCAA Division I athletics face a lot of questions. The hard work it takes to get there may seem unimportant upon moving up to face stiffer competition. Once they get their opportunity, their level of success can go either way.

Insert UVU softball’s Kori Barrios, and we see that the transition from the JUCO level to the NCAA Division I ranks shows how athletes have been prepared for success prior to the jump.

In a game against Indiana of the Big Ten Conference at the beginning of February, at the Kajikawa Tournament that took place in Tempe, Ariz., Barrios had the chance to prove she was ready to face top-tier competition.

Early in the game, she committed an error on defense in a tight game that could have cost the team a win. Then, the seventh inning provided her the chance to redeem herself.

With the score tied 1-1 and two runners on base for the Wolverines, Barrios, the sophomore catcher from Weatherford, Okla., stepped up to the plate un-phased and prepared to save the day with her bat.

“I just went up there, took a deep breath and said [to myself] ‘just do your job,’” said Barrios about making her way to the plate with the chance to put her team ahead. “So I kind of cleared my head, and kept my eye on the ball and hit it.”

Next thing you know, Barrios smacks the ball deep into left-center field, it goes over the fence and provides the Wolverines a three-run homer that led to the eventual 4-1 win over the Hoosiers.

“Kori is super tenacious. She made a little mistake earlier in the game on defense but made up for it with that big hit,” said UVU softball head coach Nikki Palmer after the win. “That’s all we can ask for, to not quit and keep on fighting.”

As shown by Barrios, hard work and effort can pay off little-by-little each day as you strive for success, as it did for her in the game against Indiana.

“I try to get better every day,” said Barrios. “I just come out here, work hard and just do what I can.”

As she adjusts to Division I softball, the speed of the game has not been able to slow her, nor her bat down all that much.

So far, the move from Northern Oklahoma College to UVU seems effortless on her part, as she is batting .316 with one home run and four RBIs in eight games played for her new team. Previously, as a freshman at NOC, Barrios batted .420 with 12 doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs.

“I’m just trying to get the hang of things still. I’m trying to just get set in and get this, get the flow of this,” said Barrios. “It’s a little more high-paced, but I’ve made the transition pretty well I think. I like it, it’s a lot of fun.”

If any conclusion can be drawn on the transition that a JUCO athlete makes when moving up to the NCAA ranks, it’s that with hard work and determination, the athlete comes prepared to face top-tier competition at the next level. As is shown by the success of Kori Barrios for UVU softball.