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SAN DIEGO OR BUST Sanders Gives Verbal Commitment To UC San Diego
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The bat of Lauren Sanders has made some terrific contacts in her prep career, but none bigger than a connection with UC San Diego coaches, who offered her a college softball scholarship. She accepted with her verbal commitment on July 18. IKE DODSON/THE LEADER

Sandy beaches, world-renowned wildlife habitats, perhaps the greatest climate in the world and the future home of Oakdale High softball star Lauren Sanders.

It’s the proud reputation of San Diego, updated on July 18 with a verbal commitment from the quick-swinging Lady Mustang slugger to accept a scholarship to UC San Diego.

Sanders, who won a Sac-Joaquin Section title as an Oakdale sophomore, is an accomplished travel-softball star with a bounty of hitting accolades that carried onto an already brilliant career with the varsity Mustangs.

She accepted an invitation to attend UC San Diego’s recruitment camp on July 15, and was immediately offered a scholarship and position with the team after activities concluded. Sanders reached Tritons head coach Patti Gerckens just three days later to confirm her devotion to the Division II program that finished runner-up among 10 programs in the California Collegiate Athletic Association in 2013.

It’s a good time to hop on board.

The Tritons are poised to return their top four pitchers from 2013 and six of the top seven hitters from a lineup that averaged nearly seven runs a game en route to a 24-12 conference stanza.

Nothing is guaranteed, but Sanders said UC San Diego coaches have indicated they plan to utilizer her in the lineup right away.

“They explained to me that in my freshman year I may not have a defensive spot, but I should be able to designated-hit or be a pinch-hitter,” Sanders said. “I am more than happy to take on the role of a hitter.”

It’s what Sanders does best.

She was a constant force at the plate during Oakdale’s push to a runner-up VOL finish, a big reason they claimed a bracket championship at the prestigious NorCal Tournament. She was tough, even in defeat. When Oakdale saw the season end with a devastating loss to Cosumnes Oaks, Sanders proved resilient with a 2 for 4 (RBI double) effort at the plate.

It’s the same hitting prowess that gained her fame with the R&R Gold travel softball program, ultimately the launch point for her recruiting process. When UC San Diego made the offer, Sanders made a steadfast decision.

“Since I am looking at four years of college, I wanted to find a place with real good academics,” Sanders said. “That’s why I chose UC San Diego, because they not only have a great softball team, but real good academics.

“I thought it was just a real good fit for me.”

According to Sanders, she will receive the largest athletic scholarship that a Division II school can offer. She said additional funds will be available through academic scholarship programs with the Tritons.

“It’s a wonderful feeling, because this is what I have worked for ever since I started to play travel softball,” Sanders said. “I believe Oakdale is a town that really develops softball players at a young age, and all my coaches — especially coach (Larry Loger) and (Kelly Olson) — have been a big part of that.”

Sanders is one of several incoming OHS seniors poised to make a big impact in their final season with the Lady Mustangs, alongside a few stellar underclassmen.

Even though Sanders has her commitment locked up, her determination for prep success shouldn’t alter.

“I definitely feel comfortable with where I am, but I want to work harder and prove that I belong to a college scholarship,” Sanders said. “For anyone who may think I don’t belong, I would like to remove all doubt.”