Coaches rave about Softball Breakthrough Series MVP

August 28th, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The local library’s fiction section just doesn’t do it for Ana Gonzalez. She enjoys reading self-help books.

Maybe Gonzalez, a class of 2024 second baseman from Midlothian, Texas, should write some self-help books, too.

“I love her positive energy,” Jennie Finch said. “She's not going to be the most vocal, but just her presence carries that confidence. She's a servant leader. And you know, she cares about her teammates and picks them up and she works hard. She gives everything she has.”

Finch, an Olympian and National Softball Hall of Fame inductee, was one of Gonzalez’s coaches at the Breakthrough Series -- a three-day softball camp held for 42 players from across the United States and Puerto Rico.

Gonzalez shined at the Breakthrough Series, winning the Chevy MLB Develops MVP, an award given to the player demonstrating the most outstanding performance on the field.

Tony Reagins, MLB’s Chief Baseball Development Officer, awarded Gonzalez the MVP trophy in front of the camp’s coaches and players.

“I was surprised,” Gonzalez said. “Whenever [Reagins] is talking about the award and describing it, to hear your name actually be called is just really cool.”

Gonzalez grew up playing soccer and tried softball at age 8 when her father persuaded her to try something new.

She has developed into a right-handed middle infielder with aspirations to play college softball.

“I didn't start thinking about [playing softball] seriously until I was a little bit older, maybe around 13,” Gonzalez said. “But I always loved the game. My love for the game never changed. Getting to be at events like this, it's just really cool to see the growth from where I come from.”

Lauren Chamberlain, a former national champion and All-American softball player at Oklahoma, was one of the Breakthrough Series coaches responsible for determining the MVP. Chamberlain said Gonzalez’s combination of skill and infectious personality made the choice clear.

“[Gonzalez] was a unanimous vote among the coaches,” Chamberlain said. “It was like, ‘It has got to be Ana.’ She's just has good energy when she's out there. I love her presence. And she's also just one of the top athletes. This award was judged mainly on just ability and skill. Obviously a good human, but a really good softball player.”

Through fielding drills and live batting practice thown by Finch, campers honed their skills at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. Gonzalez said she felt like she had a good fielding camp and also worked hard on her hitting.

“The physical stuff, you know, she has everything that you could possibly want,” Finch said. “A cannon for an arm. She carries the field at the plate. She owns the plate. She's dominant. She has quick hands. She's powerful.”

Amber Flores -- whom Gonzalez affectionally described as “my dog” -- has worked three camps attended by Gonzalez. Flores said Gonzalez made an effort to be leader among her peers this time.

“I think people connect with her really well,” Flores said. “She talks to everybody. She doesn't just stay in her small group. People know Ana, she's somebody that sticks out and people gravitate toward her.”

Gonzalez is an active member at her school and church. Flores, the head coach at Seminole State (Okla.), said Gonzalez has the attributes of a wanted recruit. Gonzalez and the Trojans have been in talks about playing collegiately there.

“She's just an awesome human,” Flores said. “She's great to be around. I mean, she will light a room up. She has characteristics that are rare in my opinion.”

With the award, Gonzalez won a trip to the 2022 World Series, where she will be recognized before a game.

“Everything that the game has given me has been amazing,” Gonzalez said. “I've stayed in here and I still love it.”