Ironwood Ridge vs Canyon Del Oro Softball

Canyon Del Oro catcher Samantha Nettling makes a throw to first last week.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

It is safe to say that Canyon Del Oro’s Sammy Nettling maximized her high school experience. The recent graduate was a three-sport standout, graduated near the top of her class and if that was not enough she worked hard to raise money for charity.

Nettling is best known for her achievements on the softball field, but was also a good golfer and basketball player. She helped lead the Dorado girls golf team to a sixth place finish at the Division II state golf championships. Nettling herself finished 54th in the state, but it was her leadership that propelled the Dorados, not her ability to hit a golf ball.

She was also a key member of the Dorados girls basketball team that advanced to the state tournament and lost a 57-55 heartbreaker to Kingman High School. Relatively new to the game, Nettling led the team in scoring, steals and rebounds. Shh averaged 10.4 points per game, and again provided great leadership to the team that won 23 games.

“Simply put, we were just a better team when Sammy was on the court,” said CDO Girls Basketball Coach Kent Senzee.  “She never played in the summer leagues with us because of her travel softball team. We were basically a .500 team every summer. Where Sammy really stood out was her leadership and her desire to win.”

Senzee pointed out that she always gave 100% in the most grueling drills, getting on those who did not hustle, and she was one of four seniors who showed up at 5:30 in the morning, twice a week to shoot threes. Even though basketball was her second sport, she was named sectional Player of the Year.

I hope to have a player like Sammy every year,” Senzee said.    «But I know deep down, this type of athlete comes around once every 10 years.  CDO was blessed.”

She showed those leadership skills away from the school as well.

“Her best attribute is her leadership,” said Keith Householder, her coach on the Hotshots travel team. “She excels in leading people in tough situations.”

Householder explained that as a freshman the team lost their leader to injury during a tournament and Nettling stepped up and took over the reigns, something she never relinquished.

Where Nettling really excelled was as an all-star catcher for the Dorados. Although the team advanced to the championship game, it was not an easy season. There was adversity both on the field and off, but the team did what it had to do and nearly won their third title in four years.

“The thing I'll remember most about this season was going to battle with this team every single day,” Nettling explained. “Being one of the senior leaders it was really special to watch this team grow throughout the season.”

They lost 2-1 to Ironwood Ridge in the championship game. A heartbreaking way to end a career.

“We went through so much adversity this year and it really made us realize how blessed we are to be able to play for this program and carry on the tradition,” Nettling added.

She hit .495 with 40 RBI this season and hit .461 over her four-year high school career.

For her efforts, Nettling will attend Northwestern next fall on a softball scholarship. Although academics were a real selling point, Nettling fell in love with the softball program. At first she was not really considering the school, but during a trip to Chicago for a summer travel tournament she made a visit and everything clicked.

“I was sort of hesitant because they weren't really on my radar at the time but I absolutely fell in love with it,” Nettling said. “The school, the campus, the location, everything, but what really hooked me was the coaches.”

Nettling saw the Wildcats play in person at a tournament at ASU and that sold her. She committed soon thereafter.

Of course, academics were a huge selling point for the school. Nettling was near the top of her class at CDO and the standout student was drawn to the academic reputation of the Evanston, Illinois institution.

“I do take a lot of pride in my academics, growing up it was drilled into my head that student always came before athlete,” Nettling said.

Both her parents were high school athletes and her father Bill went on to play tight end at the University of Arizona, so they knew the rigors of being a student athlete, but her academic never suffered.

“It was difficult at times, especially balancing two sports during basketball season and then again when finals coincided with state (softball) playoff games,” Nettling said. “It made it easier being able to come to practice every day with the team and get my mind off of everything that was going on around me. It was all about trying to maximize each hour of my day and staying on top of my responsibilities.”

Nettling was also moved to start the Pink Dorados, an organization created to raise breast cancer awareness through advocacy and fundraising. Nettling’s life was touched several times by the disease, so the natural born leader led again. The group started with about 30 members, made up of softball players and their families, but now it has grown to include a number of different students from a variety of backgrounds. The group has raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research.

“The survivors are what inspire me,” Nettling said. “The week before the race is always so hectic but seeing what the survivors go through it gives me the motivation every year to keep fighting for them.”

Nettling was accepted into the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern and the avid sports fans wants to pursue sports broadcasting once she graduates college.



(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.