Anissa Urtez stood on first base, having hit her 26th RBI of the year. The junior has been a huge contributor for Utah Softball this year, and it’s been a long road to get to that 26th RBI of the season for the Long Beach, Calif. native.
As a shortstop and third baseman in high school, Urtez broke every single Downey High School record in her career. Urtez finished her time as a Viking with a .490 batting average, 154 hits, 110 RBIs and 111 runs. She was named the Press-Telegram’s Player of the Year in her junior year. Urtez led her team throughout the season and won the championship for her school for the first time in more than 10 years.
“It was really fun,” Urtez said about her high school softball experience. “I had a lot of really cool teammates, and they were really good friends that I’m super close to right now, so I think just having fun with those girls as well, it was more of a fun thing than a serious one.”
In her junior year of high school, Urtez committed to Utah.
“I think the people, the environment, the city is beautiful, and it’s comforting,” Urtez said. “I think the coaches made it really comfortable for me to adapt to this place as well.”
Urtez’s first collegiate hit came on her first at-bat. On February 7, 2014 — after the two batters before her got out — Urtez stepped up to the plate and homered to left field for Utah’s only run of the game in a 6-1 loss to Boise State.
Urtez was nervous walking up to the plate for her first collegiate at-bat, but that nervousness went away after she watched the ball sail over the fence.
“I was nervous. I was shaking, but it’s the same game I’ve played all of my life. I just had to calm down a little bit,” Urtez said.
In her freshman year for Utah, Urtez made an immediate impact. Urtez was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team in her debut year and she was named an honorable mention for the All-Pac-12 team. She would finish her first year under head coach Amy Hogue with 41 runs, 65 hits, 55 RBIs and six home runs.
Urtez proved to be a defensive powerhouse in her freshman year, as well, finishing the season with 149 assists (second in the Pac-12) and added 63 putouts.
In her sophomore year with the Utes, Urtez was an iron woman, starting all 55 games at shortstop for Utah.
“I do have to go to treatment a lot, so I have to keep up with that and stay strong mentally,” Urtez said.
The story of Urtez’s sophomore year was her outstanding defense play for the Utes. Urtez was named as an honorable mention for the Pac-12 All-Defensive team.
Urtez helped Utah advance to the postseason for the first time since 2006 in 2015 and finished the season with 31 runs, 38 hits, seven doubles, three home runs and 10 RBIs on the season.
Urtez cherished the experience of going to the postseason for the first time in her collegiate career.
“It was really good, it was really exciting,” she said. “It was something that I have never experienced before, and I think having that mindset to come in prepared and ready to play the top teams in the nation — you know that your team is one of the best as well.”
With only one more year left at Utah, Urtez is focused on getting the Utes back to the NCAA Tournament this year. This season, Urtez leads the Utes in batting average (.417), and doubles (13) and ranks second in RBIs with 27 on the season. Urtez also leads the Utes in multi-hit games (18) and holds the longest hitting streak this season (11). Urtez is also tied with Heather Bowen for the most multiple RBI games, with seven.
Urtez knew she would be an integral part of the team coming into the season.
“I think I was expecting that for my role this year. We lost a huge player last year, and I feel like it was my job to come up with that role,” Urtez said. “I think just preparing in the summer harder than I’ve ever worked really helped and I think that it’s showing a lot throughout the season.”
When the sun sets on Urtez’s career on the hill, she wants to be known as a good teammate and hard worker.
“I want to be known as playing balls out — just leaving everything out,” Urtez said. “I hope everyone who played with me understands that I came here wanting to play serious and just play as hard as I could, just leaving everything out and not wasting anything.”