Rayohna Sagapolu accomplished her goal of playing collegiate softball at the Division-I level.
The 2017 Ceres High School grad wrapped up her athletic career with the San Jose Spartans in May.
“It was a great experience,” Sagapolu said. “A lot of people don’t get to do this. It was kind of short-lived now that I look back at it. I had a lot of fun. The last few games hit me hard. I realized the sport I put 16-plus years into was going to end soon. You never think it’s that close to being over.”
Sagapolu put on her Spartan uniform for the final time on May 15.
She scored and walked once while batting leadoff during San Jose State’s 3-2 home loss to Colorado State on Senior Day.
She started at shortstop on defense.
Sagapolu’s parents, sister, grandma, aunts and cousins attended the game.
“It was two guests per player,” she said. “I was lucky enough to get a lot of my teammates’ tickets. My whole family was there. It was great seeing people that started this journey with me end it with me. I really didn’t feel sad. I gave it my all when I was here. I don’t regret anything.”
Sagapolu originally planned to opt out of her final season at San Jose State, but ended returning to the team after having second thoughts. The NCAA allowed student-athletes to not participate in their respective sports during the 2020-21 school year due to concerns about contracting COVID-19.
“I decided to come back when the season started,” said Sagapolu, who contributed at first base, shortstop and pitcher. “I wanted to give the (new) coach a chance. It was worth it. We got closer as a team. We had to deal with a lot.”
Sagapolu collected one homer, three RBIs, seven runs and 11 walks in 14 games.
The Spartans went 9-23 overall and finished in eighth place in the Mountain West Conference standings (5-13).
Sagapolu was a member of San Jose State’s softball program from 2018-21.
She batted .268 from the plate for her career with one homer, two triples, 14 doubles, 88 hits, 36 RBIs, 59 runs, 60 walks and four stolen bases in 129 games.
She started 120 times.
"The most enjoyable part is learning about yourself. In four years, you grow a lot."Rayohna Sagapolu
“I was surprised with how I was able to compete and keep up with people at that level,” Sagapolu said. “Our coaches prepared us. The experience as a whole is not easy to sum up. The most enjoyable part is learning about yourself. In four years, you grow a lot. The most challenging part would be having to deal with managing your time. It’s not for everybody. If you have the love for the game, it’s great. It gave me a lot of life skills. You get to meet a lot of new people. Three of the athletes I played with are in the Olympics right now.”
Sagapolu had her junior season cut short at San Jose State because of the coronavirus pandemic. She batted a career-best .354 with five doubles, 12 RBIs and 15 runs for the Spartans, who posted a 21-5 overall record. Sagapolu committed just one error on defense.
Sagapolu hit .276 with two triples, six doubles, 16 RBIs, 29 runs and 26 walks in 50 games for the MWC runner-up Spartans in 2019 (37-16, 17-7).
She struggled as a freshman, batting .183 with three doubles, five RBIs and eight runs in 39 games.
“I’m pretty satisfied,” Sagapolu said while assessing her overall performance. “My freshman year, I came in really tense. I was kind of scared to play. Senior year, I was able to have fun and enjoy the game.”
Sagapolu will graduate from San Jose State during the 2021-22 school year.
The Justice Studies major wants to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“I’m leaning towards being a police officer,” Sagagpolu said. “I don’t want to do anything that is going to keep me at a desk. It’s a good way to help people and change the system. There’s been a lot of problems.”
Sagapolu starred on Ceres High’s varsity softball team for four seasons.
She was voted Most Valuable Player of the Western Athletic Conference during her senior year.
She earned first-team all-WAC honors as a junior, sophomore and freshman.
Sagapolu posted a career batting average of .429 with 13 homers, four triples, 34 doubles, 112 RBIs and 107 runs.
She compiled a 21-10 record with 197 strikeouts and two no-hitters at pitcher.
Sagapolu helped lead the Bulldogs to 86 victories, one Sac-Joaquin Section championship and four WAC titles.
“Going from Costa Fields, to junior high, to high school, to college, it made me realize how much effort it took from my parents and everybody that supported me,” Sagapolu said. “It’s something I wish I could pay them back for.”
“Softball was a big part of my life,” she added. “I devoted so much time to it. I’m kind of happy it’s over. Down the road, I’ll probably look back and miss it. But at the end of the day, the main thing is the people I met are only a phone call away. That’s something I’m able to take with me. It was cool to develop those relationships. If I miss the sport that much, I’ll get in a small (recreational) league. I would like to coach just because of everything I learned. That’s something I’ll probably get into in the future.”