An injury in 2019 and a pandemic in 2020 has reduced Natalie Depasquale’s collegiate softball career to just one game so far.
But the Santa Barbara City College sophomore has considered herself to be anything but sidelined.
The Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table honored Depasquale, a straight-A student the last two years, as the Vaqueros’ Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
“COVID kind of got her, but what is special about that is that if she wants to transfer and play, she’ll have four years that she can play at a university,” SBCC coach Jasmine Perry said. “If she comes back next year, for whatever reason, we’re more than happy to have her … and super lucky for that.”
Depasquale, who earned a grade-point average of 3.97 at San Ramon High School, has made SBCC’s President’s Honor Roll every semester. She also earned the Vaqueros’ starting centerfield position and leadoff spot in the batting order for the 2019 season.
“She’s a captain on the field,” Perry said. “Any ball that’s hit is hers.
“She’s in centerfield, but she’s diving for balls in left field, right field, behind her, in front of her. It’s really fun to watch her play.”
Although she suffered an injury during the season opener of 2019, she worked diligently with her rehabilitation to get ready for this season.
“I was really excited about this year because I saw the potential in not only Natalie, but our program,” said Perry, who succeeded Justine Bosio as this year’s head coach after serving as her assistant. “She probably would’ve been our leadoff batter. She is ridiculously fast.”
Depasquale has played softball since age 7 and travel ball since she was 11. She made San Ramon’s High varsity team as a freshman.
“I also played soccer until my freshman year of high school when I decided that softball was going to be the best fit for my future goals in life,” she said. “I also did cross country for three years in high school.
“My whole life has been centered around sports. I honestly would not trade it for anything in the world as I have made some of the best friends and have met and learned from the best coaches as well.”
She won a cross country race during her freshman year at San Ramon and still likes to challenge her softball teammates to determine the team’s fastest player.
“If she somehow loses a race, she’s like, ‘No, let’s do that again … I’m going to win,’ ” Perry pointed out.
She was set to be one of this season’s team leaders when the pandemic shut down all of the college’s athletic competition for the year.
“She has those captain-like abilities,” Perry said. “She’s one of those people that others are just drawn to. They want to do what Natalie is doing.”
Depasquale said Perry has served as one of her inspirations.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but coach Jasmine is a hard-working mother of two, she goes out of her way every day to make sure we get the extra help and support that we need,” she said. “Not only is she the best on the field, but off the field, as well.
“She’s always there if I need someone to call on when I’m having a difficult time. It’s amazing to share a great relationship with a coach like coach Jas, and she’s definitely pushed me to the scholar-athlete that I am today.”
Depasquale’s own dedication has carried over into the classroom. She serves as a volunteer in SBCC’s math lab and hopes to eventually pursue a nursing education at either UCLA or New York University.
“I hope to become a pediatric oncology nurse where I can constantly surround myself with children and help them in whatever way possible,” she said.
Depasquale, the daughter of John and Heather Depasquale, said SBCC has provided her with a great transition to a four-year university. She said it begins with the coaches and athletic director Rocco Constantino, and continues with the college’s faculty.
“I’m so grateful to have such an amazing leader in our athletic department who shares an amazing love for softball like I do,” she said. “And the amount of resources that are offered to us is something I’ve never seen before and it definitely makes it easier to do well, and obviously to succeed in school.
“Along with that, I’ve never taken so many amazing classes in my life, and all my professors there have made my experience worth it, even on the most trying days, especially online.
“I do miss the beauty of our campus, but hopefully we’ll all be back there soon, and I would love to be able to meet with my amazing professors once again.”