Torch passing: Sedillo leaving a legacy for talented newcomer Madsen
Senior Bela Sedillo has played varsity catcher all four years on the Juan Diego softball team. Head coach Paul Archuleta said she’s one of the smartest players he’s ever coached. (DeAnn Madsen/Juan Diego softball)
Gallery: Torch passing: Sedillo leaving a legacy for talented newcomer Madsen [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
One could draw many parallels between Bela Sedillo and Allie Madsen.
Both started playing softball in the same Oquirrh Mountain recreation league, both then moved onto to playing with their competition team. Both are catchers, Sedillo hits leadoff while Madsen bats cleanup and both are playing key roles for the Juan Diego High School softball team.
“It’s a great dynamic,” said head coach Paul Archuleta of his duo.
The difference is Madsen is a freshman at the beginning of her Soaring Eagle career, Sedillo is a senior graduating in a month leaving a legacy behind.
At Easter, the duo’s offensive output had inspired Juan Diego’s 8-6 start with Madsen’s five home runs and Sedillo’s 10 doubles.
Sedillo’s double digit extra base hits leads 3A, something she’s used to having lead the classification last year and was third in the state her sophomore year.
And it’s exactly what she looks for.
“I can hit just about anything, (but) I prefer something I can drive like left center-ish because I get a lot of doubles that way,” Sedillo said.
With Madsen, playing first base, hitting three spots behind her in the lineup, it means Sedillo probably scores a lot of runs too.
“I know that if I get on base and she gets up, if (spots) two and three don't hit me in, I know she's going to,” Sedillo said.
Madsen, who started playing softball after her mom saw an ad in the paper, is known for her intensity and ambition.
Archuleta recalls having an almost three-hour practice, then afterwards Madsen would spend more time in the weight room.
“That kid has worked like no tomorrow,” Archuleta said. “She’s a good kid, she’s strong, she’s a great role model right now as a freshman. She’s gonna be a great player.”
Sedillo said Madsen is very self-aware, quick to identify what she might be doing wrong.
“Before anyone else can tell her what she does wrong or what she needs to fix, she already knows,” the senior captain said. “She coaches herself and that makes her a better player.”
For Sedillo, an Arizona native who moved to Utah at age 8, she was originally a swimmer when her dad put her into softball.
“I was awful,” she said of her early years. “I batted last and I played right field for a couple years and then for whatever reason, they chose me for an all-star team.”
Sedillo eventually joined a competition team and after that, said she “kinda knew” what she was doing.
She sure knows what she’s doing now.
“I’ve never seen a kid that knows the game inside and out (like her),” Archuleta said, adding she’s received more compliments from umpires and opposing coaches than any player he’s seen in his life.
“She’s had umpires frazzled cause she’s made calls and knows the rule book inside and out,” he said. “Majority of our umpires have come to me and told me, ‘your catcher, her framing skills, the way she handles a situation, the way she runs the field. I've never seen that.’ That's the type of player she is.”
Sedillo’s knowledge of the game allows her to call games for her pitchers rather than receiving the instructions from Archuleta.
“She’s very consistent, not a lot shakes her. She knows what she has to do and she makes it happen,” Madsen said.
Sedillo, who plans to walk on at Colorado State or Arizona State, picked off 28 batters last season as a catcher and her competition team, the Utah Bullets, won the western regionals in 2016 qualifying them for nationals in Texas.
Last year, Sedillo discovered she had celiac disease, where ingesting gluten can lead to damaging the small intestine, and that she was lactose intolerant.
“Every day she comes and she’s hurting…(but) comes day in and day out and works hard. I was looking forward to having her as my leader this year,” Archuleta said. “It’s gonna be sad to lose her.”
Luckily, the Soaring Eagles have its heir apparent on the roster in Madsen. Sedillo, a 3.9 GPA student, will pass the position onto Madsen after graduation. While the torch will be passed, Archuleta said this year has been good for Madsen, especially for how to pick off batters.
“[Bela’s] arm strength is phenomenal. She’s not afraid to throw the ball. Allie would kind of hesitate, not let go of the ball as much, so I wanted her to see Bela's pop up time,” Archuleta said.
As the team battles for a playoff spot in a region with perennial power Bear River, Archuleta said he’s happy with the work ethic of a team made up of 22 players with some learning the game for the first time.
Compared to past seasons when Sedillo felt the obligation to do everything, she’s enjoyed watching the talented team come together this season.
“We've had ups and downs but we've done much better than I ever anticipated and I’m really happy with this season,” Sedillo said.