By Ray Hamill — For about as long as she can remember, Fortuna’s Renee Metz has known she wanted to play college softball, wherever that might be.
And the moment she walked on campus, she knew she wanted to play at College of the Siskiyous.
“It was a gut feeling,” said Metz, who visited Siskiyous while on the way to Southern Oregon on a recruiting trip, and immediately knew that was where she wanted to play. “I never expected to go to a JC. I didn’t want to go through the recruiting process twice. But on a trip to Southern Oregon we stopped at Siskiyous, and the coach gave me a tour of the campus and I watched a game, and I pretty much knew then. Once I stepped on campus I knew.”
That’s good news for the Eagles, who are getting a versatile talent and a team leader.
Metz has been an integral part of the Huskies program since she broke into the varsity team as a freshman, starring at multiple positions across the infield and giving head coach Eric Helms a clutch performer at the plate, where she has sparked numerous comeback victories.
“She always shows up every game ready to play,” Helms said. “She’s a team leader, and she works hard and engages with other athletes.”
Helms has also been impressed with his star player’s ability to adapt and willingness to try new positions and take on new challenges, something that has driven Metz on.
“My parents have always pushed me to play any position,” she said. “I’ve never been a bench player, because I’m always willing to try a new position.”
After playing a lot of second base and third base as a freshman, Metz took over behind the plate as a sophomore, where she is expected to lead the Huskies once again in her senior campaign this spring.
She admits, however, that she wasn’t always open to playing catcher.
“I hated it,” she said recalling her first time playing there as a young player. “I got dirt kicked in my face and I was done with it after that.”
Nowadays, however, she says she has begun to love playing the position, because when you’re a catcher “you always have action on the field.”
The versatile Metz has also tried her hands at other sports, including gymnastics, soccer and basketball, as well as playing three seasons with the Huskies volleyball program. But softball has always been her favorite.
And it’s her time with the Fortuna sports teams — both volleyball and softball — that she says she’ll remember the most from her high school days.
“Honestly the sports are what I’ve loved the most in high school,” she said. “I really just love being involved.”
Her coaches have played a big part in helping her develop into the player and person she is today.
“They’ve played a huge role in who I am on and off the (court/field),” she said of Helms and volleyball coach Lynsey Adams. “Eric Helms is my favorite coach I’ve ever had. He’s the one who helped me the most in games and recruiting.”
Metz also praised the influence of assistant softball coach Abraham Lucero, who has worked extensively with her on her batting.
She says her softball coaches encouraged her to become a vocal leader on the field after a somewhat uncomfortable freshman season, when she said some of her senior teammates did not make her feel welcome.
That encouragement from the coaches, she says, “changed my perspective, not only in softball but also in life in general.”
Metz, of course, has some unfinished business before graduation and is still hoping to play one more season of both volleyball and softball.
She admits, however, that if she has to choose between the two later in the spring, softball will always be her first love.
She says she considered several four-year options before committing to Siskiyous, including Chico, Santa Clara and schools in SoCal and Oregon, and plans on continuing her career at a four-year school after her time at Siskiyous while majoring in either Forensic Science or Criminal Justice.
For now, however, she’s happy in the knowledge she will likely see a lot more playing time immediately at a community college program like Siskiyous.
Her time with the Mad River MIST, a local travel team program, has also helped prepare her for the next level, as it has for so many local standouts in recent years.
In fact, her time with the MIST, who she first played for two summers ago, played a pivotal role in her recruitment, with Eagles head coach Jon Cox first noticing her at a travel team tournament in Arcata.