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Now if only Falcons ace could juggle

03/14/2013, 8:59pm PDT
By Terry Monahan

Q&A with Torrey Pines softball pitcher Rachel Nasland.


Pitcher Rachel Nasland led Torrey Pines to its first San Diego Section softball championship last season.

When Julia Yacker doubled in the bottom of the 10th inning for the winning run in the Division I championship game last spring, it was the first time Torrey Pines High had won a San Diego Section softball title.

And 5-foot-8 Rachel Nasland, who pitched all 10 innings in the 1-0 win over Carlsbad at UC San Diego, was one of the first Falcons to reach Yacker to start the celebration.

It was the culmination of a dream that started when Nasland, now 17, was just 5 and her mom saw a flier and signed her up to play softball.

She found her passion two years later when she began pitching.

Q: How did the championship celebration start for you?

A: I was on the field before the outfielder even picked up Julia’s hit. My mind just went blank. I couldn’t believe it. We had just won CIF for the first time ever.

Q: How long did the partying last that night?

A: No one wanted to go home and do homework. The next morning everyone knew what we had done. It was a great day in school.

Q: There isn’t much room left in the Torrey Pines gym for your banner, is there?

A: If I have to climb up there myself, our banner is going up in the rafters. My kids won’t believe that’s my banner when I show it to them. They certainly won’t take my word for it without the banner as proof.

Q: Why did you opt to become a pitcher?

A: I liked being the center of attention in a game. I’ve always liked to entertain people. I’m a little louder personality in the real world anyway, so being the center of attention in softball really isn’t anything new.

Q: Your first three years have been marked by some great moments like being named Pitcher of the Year in the Palomar League as a freshman and winning a section title as a junior as well as some not-so-great moments, right?

A: Sophomore year was really hard to just sit down and not play until the very end. I had overused my elbow and rest, a lot of rest, got rid of all the swelling. I tried to be involved like being in charge of playing music between innings or keeping the scorebook.

Q: But for someone who loves the attention, didn’t that hurt?

A: At the time, yes. Fortunately, I knew I still had two years left. Had that been my senior year, I don’t know what I would have done.

Q: Can you describe what last year was like when your team went 31-2 and won a title?

A: Great season. It was awesome from start to finish. The playoffs were wild. I was so pumped up for the finals and then to have them postponed because of a power failure and then come back two days later was strange. We were bummed, but we rejuvenated. Did you see how many fans were there when we finally did play? It was amazing.

Q: Where do you go from here, especially this year?

A: I understand the game so well now. I love watching it. When I go to a college game, for instance, I watch the pitcher to see how she approaches hitters, how she sets them up. I also watch how hitters work at the plate.

Q: What was the hardest thing to learn about pitching?

A: How to let it go. When you make a bad pitch, forget about it. Or you lose a game. I can’t let it go right away. I use it as motivation for next time. I can’t sulk out there. My teammates’ energy comes from me. If I show that I’m mad or down, they’ll go down, too.

Q: Was it difficult to learn all this?

A: There’s no manual, so you learn by watching. There’s a ton to learn about pitching beyond what pitch to throw. You have to read batters, read the base runners, worry about location and finding a batter’s weakness and then you pitch your best pitch to their weakness. Sounds easy, but it’s not.

Q: Are you still excited about going to Notre Dame since you committed to the Irish two years ago?

A: I’m excited about seeing different seasons, snow and non-Californians for four years. I’ve seen little snow because my family always vacations in sunny places, but I can’t wait to get to South Bend. It always seemed so far away. Now it’s right around the corner.

RACHEL NASLAND

School: Torrey Pines

Sport: Softball

Born: 1995 in San Diego

Year: Senior

Nickname: Nazzy

Accomplishments: Avocado League Pitcher of the Year in 2010, Palomar League Pitcher of the Year and first-team All-San Diego Section in 2012

QUICK HITS

Favorite pizza: Hawaiian

Sport you would never watch: Cricket

If you could have a last meal: Starbucks

Dream vacation: Spain

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for: Travel around the world, play professional softball and get more wishes

What three things would you want on a deserted island: cellphone, some books, tanning oil

Talent you’d love to have: Juggle

If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future: Past

Favorite restaurant: Brigantine

Best moment in athletic career: Winning 16-and-under national title in travel ball in 2011 and winning San Diego Section Division I title last year

What do you want to be when you grow up: Psychologist

Favorite class: English

Your ideal car or truck: ’65 Mustang

Favorite athlete: Jenny Finch

Favorite reality TV show: “America’s Next Top Model”

Favorite sports movie: “League of Their Own”

Favorite cartoon as a youngster: “Ariel”

Biggest pet peeve: Slow drivers

Biggest fear: Not reaching my goals

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