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PECS’ Alyssa Madrigal, Melaine Bonilla
come up big for Yearling softball

Alyssa Madrigal at the plate against Sebastian Middle School on March 31, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

OKEECHOBEE — After helping Yearling Middle School win a conference volleyball championship last fall, Alyssa Madrigal and Melaine Bonilla shifted this spring to softball where they made quite an impression.
With Madrigal as the No. 1 pitcher and Bonilla as the starting shortstop and leadoff batter, the pair of Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School students were core components on a team that compiled a 6-3 record and dealt rival and conference champion Osceola Middle its only loss of the season.


Since sports were not played at PECS this academic year due to the pandemic, Madrigal and Bonilla opted to play for Yearling, which meant 30-minute drives to get to 4 p.m. practices at the end of PECS’ school day.


“The parents are wonderful, getting them here,” Yearling coach Kacy Hackett said prior to the team’s final regular season game March 31 against Sebastian Middle School.


Hackett said both players fit in right away with the team. For Madrigal, the smooth transition was made easier because she knew several of the Yearling players.

Melaine Bonilla rounds third base on her way to scoring a run for Yearling Middle School on March 31, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)


Madrigal said she was glad to have the opportunity to play middle school sports this year even if it wasn’t with her own school. Similar to her other eighth grade classmates at PECS, Madrigal’s only time playing for PECS came as a sixth grader with volleyball and basketball before the pandemic ended softball in March 2020.


Against Sebastian, Madrigal was the starting pitcher. She showed why she was such a valuable part of the pitching staff. In the top of the first inning, a walk and an error put two Sebastian runners on base. Madrigal responded by striking out the next three batters to end the threat. She continued to overpower batters in the second inning as she struck out the side in order.


“Alyssa has done wonderful,” Hackett said. “She is working really hard on her pitching. She has a really great fastball. She has a change-up every now and then. She’s working on a curve.”

Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School student Alyssa Madrigal delivers a pitch for the Yearling Middle School softball team against Sebastian Middle School on March 31, 2022. Madrigal was among the top players on the team this season. (Photo Kevin Johnson)


Madrigal also had a strong year at the plate.

“She has been one of our players you can count on to get on base and she’s aggressive on the bases,” Hackett said.


Immediately after the game against Sebastian, Madrigal and the team’s seven other eighth graders were honored in a ceremony on the field. Madrigal, who will be headed to Okeechobee High School where she plans to play volleyball and softball, was accompanied by her mother, Letty.


On a team comprised of nearly all eighth graders, it seemingly would have been difficult for a sixth grader to stand out, but not for Bonilla. The team’s only sixth grader stepped right in as the starting shortstop and leadoff batter.


“That’s very impressive, especially with a team stacked with upper classmen,” Hackett said. “She comes in with a lot of softball knowledge. She’s our leadoff hitter. Her game is spot on. Strong arm, dependable at the plate.”


She was dependable in the circle, too. She finished up the win against Sebastian by pitching one scoreless inning of relief.


Yearling’s season ended in early April with a conference semifinal playoff loss to Imagine School.

Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School sixth grader Melaine Bonilla fires a pitch for the Yearling Middle School softball team against Sebastian Middle School on March 31, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
Alyssa Madrigal, far right, chats with her Yearling teammates and coach during a break in a game March 31, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
Yearling eighth graders, including Alyssa Madrigal, were honored after their final regular season game March 31, 2022. Madrigal was accompanied by her mom Letty Madrigal during the ceremony. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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