Rancho Buena Vista’s Fale Aviu begins the day with 10 pull-ups as part of her workout regimen.
Vista Fale Aviu burst onto the softball scene at Rancho Buena Vista High in the fall of 2011 as a freshman who already had committed to play at the University of Oklahoma.
Two years later, Aviu, whose full name is Falepolima Sione Aviu after her grandmother, is not the same player she was when she batted .410 as a ninth-grader.
The junior center fielder is better, much better.
Aviu, now two inches taller at 5-feet-4 and not quite as shy as she used to be, has gone from a singles hitter with one home run as a freshman to the San Diego Section’s home run leader.
In 13 games this season for the No. 1-ranked Longhorns (11-2), Aviu has slugged 10 homers, including five in her last five games. She also has driven in 24 runs, topping her RBI count from last season when she socked just four homers.
“I’m still just a line drive hitter,” Aviu said. “They’re just going farther than before.
“I still hit the ball in the gaps. I’m seeing a lot of pitches way outside and way inside. I’m trying to stay patient and working with that.”
It must be working because Aviu, in addition to her power surge, has one of the best batting averages in the nation at .697 (23-for-33).
Aviu, who turned 17 on Sept. 22, credits a tireless workout regimen as well as countless hours in the batting cage for her sharp improvement.
“I am driven when it comes to softball,” she said, smiling. “My parents taught me to be mentally tough and to depend only on myself.
“In addition to all the physical work on my game, I constantly watch tape of myself in games. It’s easier to see what went wrong in an at-bat.
“There are days when I don’t want to see the tape.”
But those bad days have been few and far between this year.
“She’s the most disciplined player I know,” RBV coach Theresa Murillo said. “You can see it because she’s on fire right now.”
Aviu begins her work day with 10 pull-ups when she wakes up in the morning and, once classes end, she heads to the batting cage.
She can set her own time in the cage because Murillo gave her a key.
“Coach got tired of having me beg her to come open the cage for me freshman year,” Aviu said, throwing her head back with a big laugh. “I’d be in there with a bunch of rec league players and I could hear their coach telling them to watch this girl’s swing because it’s perfect.”
When Aviu has any spare time you can find her in the family kitchen. An avid baker, she’s often making cookies, brownies or a cake as a way of relaxing and spending time with sister Vaa, who plays on the RBV freshman team.
“She does cooking and I do baking,” Fale said. “I never bring stuff for the team. My family is my guinea pig.”
On the horizon is the day she joins the defending NCAA champion Sooners in Norman, Okla., in the fall of 2015.
“I’ve gone back three times since I committed and I just love the atmosphere where everyone knows who you are when you walk into a store,” Aviu said.
“I’ll see someone around here (in Vista) and I’ll yell ‘Boomer’ at them and they’ll holler ‘Sooner’ back at me.”
If Aviu keeps hitting homers at her current pace, Sooners fans everywhere may just bring her all the baked goods she can eat.