By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Solis, Espinoza excel in sports, academics
• Central Valley standouts earn WAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors
Samantha Espinoza
A standout athlete in three sports and in the classroom, Samantha Espinoza was named Central Valley’s WAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2020-21.

Sergio Solis and Samantha Espinoza were named Central Valley High School’s Western Athletic Conference Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year, respectively, during Senior Awards Night this past month.

The ceremony was staged on May 5 in the quad area.

“I was pretty surprised when I found out,” Solis said. “But I put the work in on the field and in the classroom.”

“It’s a great honor, especially since I worked hard,” Espinoza said. “That’s been my goal since freshman year. I appreciate the fact that there was a lot of competition.”

Espinoza posted a cumulative grade-point average of 4.0.

She took nine Advanced Placement classes.

“Part of being a student-athlete is having good grades,” said Espinoza, who had a 4.7 GPA and was enrolled in four AP courses senior year. “There were times I wanted to drop one sport and focus on just school. It was very tiring. The fact that this was my last year and I was committed to Central Valley’s athletic and academic programs, I felt I was obligated to finish off strong.”

Solis posted a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in high school.

“Academics are No. 1 in this house,” he said. “My mom’s a teacher. She wouldn’t be too happy if I wasn’t passing. She expects more from me. She definitely pushes me.”

Espinoza earned 11 varsity letters, including four in wrestling and softball, and three in volleyball.

She helped lead Central Valley’s wrestling program to two team conference titles in four seasons.

Espinoza placed second in the 235-pound weight class at the Central California Conference Championships junior year.

She also took second at the Sierra Nevada Classic and Morning Star Invitational.

She was eighth at the Napa Valley Classic.

The Hawks’ 2020-21 campaign consisted of dual scrimmages due to COVID-19 safety and transportation reasons.

“Wrestling was my favorite sport,” Espinoza said. “That’s where my mental toughness came from. It pushed me to where I’ve never been before.”

“Sammy has a great attitude,” Central Valley wrestling coach Rob Beckhart said. “She works very hard. She’s not one to back away from a challenge. She’s done a lot for our program. I can’t say enough good things about her.”

Espinoza earned second-team, all-Central California Conference honors in softball her sophomore year.

She batted .351 with one double, five RBIs and one run.

Espinoza’s main position was catcher prior to being moved to first base.

Espinoza played a combined seven seasons of varsity softball and volleyball for head coach Regina Selfridge.

“It was such a fun experience,” Espinoza said. “She helped me get better in both sports. She helped bring out my confidence. She was my mentor. She was also my teacher. We’re pretty close.”

“Sammy is really kind and always positive,” Selfridge stated. “She’s someone you want to be around.”

Solis earned four varsity letters in baseball.

“It was definitely a challenge in the beginning,” said Solis, who earned a spot on the team as a freshman.  “As the years went on, I proved I belonged.”

“Sergio’s the epitome of what we look for in baseball players,” head coach Derrick Goblirsch said. “He’s talented. He’s willing to put in the work. He’s a model student.”

Solis helped lead Central Valley to its first league title in the sport this spring.

The Hawks amassed an 8-1 record en route to a first-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference South Division standings.

“We definitely deserved it,” Solis said. “We worked hard. We got the job done. We definitely grew as a team.”

Solis earned first-team, all-WAC honors. He logged playing time at pitcher, catcher and third base.

Solis batted .404 on the season with one triple, four doubles, 16 RBIs, 14 runs and three stolen bases. 

He committed just two errors on defense. 

“I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out,” he said. “I hit my goal of having a batting average of over .400. There was motivation, especially after not having a junior season (due to COVID-19).”

Solis plans to play baseball at Modesto Junior College.

Espinoza will attend UC Santa Barbara.

“I knew if I did well in high school, that’s how I’d get there,” Espinoza said. “All my hard work paid off.”

Sergio Solis
Sergio Solis enjoyed his best season to date with Central Valley’s baseball team this spring.