By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Martinez driven to succeed
Mae Hensley Jr. High seventh-grader Sehren Martinez (back row, second from right) suited up for the NorthWest-American Region 11-and-under softball team while competing at the Third-Annual Futures All-American Games earlier this month in Florida. Martinez batted .714 (5-for-7) from the plate with one triple, two doubles and two walks in five games. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Sehren Martinez had a busy summer.

The Mae Hensley Jr. High seventh-grader played softball for three different travel teams.

Martinez suited up for the USSSA Northwest-American Region 11-and-under softball team while competing at the Third-Annual Futures All-American Games earlier this month in Florida.

"It was a good experience," Sehren said. "I enjoyed getting to play with people from different states. The competition was pretty tough."

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said John Martinez, Sehren's father. "Watching her blossom in that environment was tremendous. She far exceeded my expectations."

Martinez batted .714 (5-for-7) from the plate with one triple, two doubles and two walks.

She logged playing time at multiple positions on defense, including shortstop, second base, first base and right field.

"The tougher the competition, the better she does," John said.

"I've been playing softball since I was six," Sehren said. "Staying focused has never been a problem for me. I treat every stage like I'm hitting in the backyard with my brother (Haaydn). I look up to him in many ways."

Sehren's team featured players from Northern California, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

"It was a tremendous opportunity to be seen by the softball world," John said. "They (Sehren's coaches) commented on her bat speed, arm speed and speed on the bases. She has a great future in softball."

Northwest-American compiled an 0-5 record in Pool B of the All-American Games, staged July 30 to Aug. 5, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Kissimmee.

Sehren's team lost 5-0 to the Southeast and 8-1 to the Northeast on Aug. 1, 10-0 to the Atlantic and 5-4 to the Great Lakes on Aug. 2, and 5-3 to the Farwest on Aug. 3.

"The most enjoyable part was getting to see the level of play from so many different states," John said.

Martinez played for the Oakdale Heat, Tri-County Smash-Macias and USSSA Northwest-American Region teams this summer.

She competed in Premier Girls Fastpitch, USSSA Elite and Triple Crown tournaments throughout California and Nevada before traveling to Florida for the All-American Games.

Martinez traveled to McNair High School in Stockton on Aug. 5 to attend her first practice with the Los Banos-based Grapettes-Greenwood 12-and-under National Team. Sehren was added to the roster on Aug. 4. She'll be the Grapettes' starting shortstop.

"She was invited to try out for seven different teams in two different age brackets," John said. "This is the best team for her. She will be most challenged on this team."

Added Sehren: "Their coach has a lot of connections with everyone in the softball world."

Martinez has been taking hitting lessons from Sean Maurice for two years.

"He's a tremendous resource," John said. "We won't go anywhere else besides Sean."

Gabrielle Maurice, Sean's daughter, just completed her softball career with UCLA at the NCAA Division-I Women's College World Series.

Gabrielle, the Bruins' starting leftfielder, graduated from Johansen High School.

Sehren has also followed the careers of Nicole Bates (Ceres High) and Madilyn Nickles (Merced). Bates and Nickles had standout freshman seasons with Washington and UCLA, respectively, this past spring.

"It's exciting to see people from around here do good things," Sehren said. "I'm trying to do what they do. I'm pretty motivated. Since I was about eight, I wanted to be the starting shortstop at UCLA."

An honor-student at Mae Hensley Jr. High, Martinez also plays soccer for the Ceres Earthquakes 15-and-under competitive squad. She'll compete with and against high-school girls.

"She's a good kid," John said. "Softball's her passion. She's not afraid to get out of her comfort zone. She loves new challenges, new experiences."

"Softball is my main sport," Sehren said. "I like every aspect of the game. It makes me feel good when I do well."