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Why 2020 Power Hitter Aaliyah Ortiz Chose McNeese State

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(Photo courtesy of McNeese State Athletics)

McNeese State nabbed a great one when it signed 2020 power hitter Aaliyah Ortiz from Atascosa, Texas. Ortiz, who belted 22 home runs during her senior season in high school with a 1.711 slugging percentage, played travel ball for the Texas Bombers and was the No. 22 player in SA's 2020 Top 100 Recruiting Rankings.

She now joins a Cowgirl squad that has plenty of recent postseason experience, having made the NCAA tournament for three straight seasons in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Find out more about her journey to Lake Charles, La. below.

Softball America: What drew you to McNeese State?

Aaliyah Ortiz: What drew me to McNeese was the culture and the way the community is the biggest supporter for the school. They make sure we have everything we need, from equipment to food after practice. When I first met some of the girls, they were all super sweet and great athletes and I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of a team that loves each other and will do anything for one another. I have the best teammates and I love all of them.

SA: What do you respect most about head coach James Landreneau?

AO: What I respect most about Coach James is the fact that he has a lot of knowledge when it comes to the game. He’s constantly trying to find a way to make you better. No matter how good you think you are, you can always learn something new with Coach James. He is a very well respected coach, too.

SA: How are you enjoying the surrounding community of Lake Charles?

AO: I really enjoy being in Lake Charles because the people here are so relentless. Going through Hurricane Laura and still making things happen for their families is so inspiring. Everywhere I go, people stop me and ask me about softball when they see that I’m wearing a McNeese softball shirt. They’re so sweet and people that make being in another state alone less scary.

SA: Where does all your power come from?

AO: I have been fortunate enough to have some of the best coaches in the game that have helped me channel my power and translate it into games. When I was younger, all I did was hit every single day, but I believe that Coach James is going to help me get all of my power out because he is constantly making me better by making sure I give my all when I hit.

SA: What will you take from your experience in the PGF Championships to your time with the Cowgirls?

AO: Playing in the PGF Championships has brought me to realize how much talent there is in the country, and it was really a blessing sharing the championship field with my past teammates and creating memories in California. Being able to play on such a big stage has prepared me for the possibility of seeing some of the best talent in college, and has mentally prepared me for hopefully playing for another big championship with McNeese.

SA: What was your favorite college program to watch growing up?

AO: My favorite school to watch growing up was UT (Texas Longhorns) because I have family that went there and that was really the only university that I knew of at the time. My dad was a huge fan, so we would spend time bonding watching UT play softball.

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