Pop music icon Katy Perry may not be aware of this, but her 2010 hit single “California Gurls” is just as relevant to some people today, as it was eight years ago when the song was released. Of course, it all depends who you ask.
While it may not be played on the radio with as much regularity as it once was, the track might as well be the official fight song for the 2018 version of DePaul University’s varsity softball program.
Incredibly, of the 20 women who suited up for the Blue Demons this past season en route to the program’s second straight Big East conference title, eight are from the nation’s Golden State.
In fact, several of them grew up playing softball together in the same travel leagues, or in high school. And as infielder Erin Andris explains, this familiarity they have with each other from so many shared experiences playing together prior to their college careers is something that has added to the special bond that existed all season long inside the Blue Demons clubhouse.
“SoCal has a very tight knit softball community, so either you know other players your age through someone else, or you know them yourself because you played with them or against them. We’re just such a small group there that we all seem to know each other somehow some way,” said the Valencia, California native.
“It’s definitely cool because you’ll go somewhere like South Carolina, and you’ll see old teammates that you can catch up with and run into,” Andris added.
Pitcher and outfielder Megan Leyva also reaffirmed that there is a comfort level on the team which exists from knowing that so many of her DePaul teammates are similar stomping grounds.
“With our young [California] players, you can definitely see that they’ve come up and stepped up to the plate, and played like they’ve been with us forever and I think it’s great that we have such a great bond on the team that when we play together we really work together to get to our goal,” said the recipient of the 2018 BIG EAST tournament’s most outstanding player.
“I think it only made the team closer,” echoed Blue Demons head athletic trainer Ryan Grebner, who also attributes praise to the Illinois sector of DePaul’s softball roster for helping all the California recruits when getting settled during their transition to the Midwest university in Chicago.
“From the beginning I think the kids who are from around here all assisted each of them in making a comfortable transition to DePaul. Having teammates that can assist them in making that transition off the field only makes the product and trust on the field better in my opinion. And working with them was a great experience just like the rest of the team. Easy going and extremely kind individuals to be around and always wanting to do their best for the team in any situation.”
However, when you’ve traveled so far across the country to go to college and be a varsity softball player like so many Californian members of the Blue Demons have, naturally it becomes more challenging for family to attend as many games.
But Erin Adris’ mother, Katrina, that is a part of the deal when you have a daughter who plays softball at such a highly competitive level.
“If your daughter plays softball, or your kid plays travel sports, it’s just something that you get used to doing. You pretty much get used to traveling everywhere. Especially softball. They pretty much play all over the country,” said Mrs. Andris, who made the 2,000 plus mile commute to watch her daughter defeat the Creighton Blue Jays by a score of 6-2 in the BIG EAST championship game.
“I traveled here from California by myself. It’s important for me to try and make it here for big games and tournaments, and I always make sure I meet the team to watch their games whenever they play on the west coast,” added the sophomore’s mother.
This past season, the Blue Demons participated in the Rebel Classic tournament, which was held in Las Vegas Nevada. DePaul also competed in Fullerton, California’s Easton Invitational tournament, which allowed Andris and some of the other California parents to watch their daughters play.
Through the 2018 softball year, the Blue Demons roster collectively combined for 39 home runs and 211 runs batted in. Amazingly, DePaul’s eight California products produced 17 of those big flies, and 97 RBIs.
Maybe Katy Perry was right. There must be something in the water.