The smell of freshly mowed grass is blown from the surrounding field into the dugout, where nervous, sweaty palms are rampant and eager shoes tap anxiously on the dusty ground. An eager dad awaits in the stands ready to cheer at first bat. Walking on to home plate, navy helmet weighing heavy on her head, Angel Wintercorn approaches the tee which is nearly as tall as she is. One of only three girls on the team, she stares at the ball determinedly and swings.
Having just finished her second year as pitcher for PCC softball, Wintercorn, has come a long way from her childhood tee-ball roots.
“It was a fun environment,” she recalls fondly. “I’ll never forget there was this one boy who spun around every time he swung his bat. It was very funny.”
Since then, this season she lead Lancer pitchers in strikeouts per game and achieved the coveted and rare shutout or no-hitter. Despite her success, Wintercorn has decided to take her drive beyond the field and into a new environment: the classroom.
“I had a good season here and so I feel like that’s a good stopping point,” she says.
With plans to attend UC Riverside in the fall studying child development, she hopes to pursue a career helping special needs children or as a preschool-kindergarten teacher.
“If there’s a baby around I’m always like ‘ooo a baby, I want to hold it!,’ she says eagerly, laughing at her own excitement. “I’m the youngest of three girls and so I’ve always wanted to see how a child grows up. I wonder what they’ll be like or how they’ll talk.”
A recent experience with a few endearing toddlers at the Child Development Center across the street from PCC left her feeling fulfilled.Her face immediately brightens at the memory.
“A few of them came up and started talking to me. It was really cute because you can’t really understand them so you have to kind of make stuff up to figure out what they’re saying,” she said.
However, Wintercorn’s success might have take a different route had it not been for the support of her boyfriend, PCC student Sumner Smith, and his family.
“He’s encouraged me to apply to places and he just really pushed me,” she says. “His mom helped me a lot with the applications and with writing and editing my papers.”
The encouragement to apply also led her to realize the full breadth of her options.
“Without him, I don’t think I’d be going to UCR,” she continues. “I’d probably be taking a scholarship to Cal State Dominguez Hills but I heard iffy things about the school and their softball program isn’t the best.”
While her new ventures are ambitious, her love for the game won’t waver, as it has shaped vital aspects of her life and character.
“My sophomore year of high school I found out I had dyslexia and ADD (Attention Deficiency Disorder) so I was actually ineligible to play,” she recalls. “I had bad grades and I just stopped trying. I was fed up. Seeing that my grades affected my ability to play, I challenged myself to do better in school.”
By her senior year, Wintercorn had managed to raise her GPA from below a 2.0 to a 3.5, earning her a scholar athlete patch to adorn her letterman.
One resource offered to her was an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which provides specialized teaching accommodations to students with learning disabilities. She used an IEP throughout high school but was determined to try college without one.
“I was able to turn that in here and get accommodations but I decided not to and I’ve been doing well without it. It’s kind of nice to do it on my own and succeed.”
Also helping her along during this difficult time were her teammates who provided a welcome support system. Pre-game dinners served as a means to bond with one another and a distraction from any negativity, they would “just have fun and laugh.”
In fact, her experience with softball has influenced a number of her relationships. She met her boyfriend, a baseball player, through a shared interest and field. Her love for the sport after her two older sisters played.
But perhaps the most profound impact was on her relationship with her number one supporter: her dad.
Scrolling through her phone, she arrives at a text from just last month that reads “You pitched arguably the greatest performance in Pasadena City College history according to the recap from the game. Congratulations from one proud dad!”
“He always encourages me,” she says.
Though their bond began simply, with a girl at bat and a dad in the stands, it will no doubt continue into whatever is pitched her way on and off the field.