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People in Your Neighborhood: Point Loma High grad pursues softball passion while a student at 2 colleges

Savannah Ames is captain of the San Diego Mesa College women's softball team.
(Courtesy)

How do you measure how much somebody loves a sport?

For Point Loma High School graduate Savannah Ames, that measurement is in units — 24, to be precise — the number of college units she takes each spring semester while attending both Point Loma Nazarene University and San Diego Mesa College full time, just so she can continue playing softball, as she’s done since age 5.

“I’m just excited that she’s still going at it today, and she’s 21 years old!” said Ames’ mother, Blake, who said she can’t recall a time in her daughter’s life when she wanted to quit.

Ames will graduate from Point Loma Nazarene in December with a degree in societal communications.

Having always wanted to attend and play softball at PLNU, Ames told the Point Loma-OB Monthly that she was disappointed when the university cut its softball program in 2011, before she had a chance to play as a Sea Lion.

She had to do without the game in her freshman year at PLNU. “It was hard to adjust to not playing every day, like I’m used to,” she said.

San Diego Mesa College softball coach and Point Loma High School grad Jackie Guidi reached out to Ames, proposing that she become a dual student and athlete. It would mean taking 12 units at Mesa College every spring, along with the 12 units she would take at PLNU, but it would earn her the chance to play college softball. After a year, Ames accepted.

And so began the most organized and jam-packed time of her life.

A day in the life of a dual student

During spring semester, Ames’ day usually begins at 7 a.m. She heads to PLNU to attend one class, then heads to chapel, followed by a drive to Mesa College for a 3½-hour softball practice. After practice, she changes out of her softball clothes in her car, then returns to PLNU for three more classes.

“My classmates are always like, ‘Why are you always so sweaty when you come to class?’ I’m like, ‘I play softball! I don’t have time to shower!’” Ames said with a laugh. “Finally, at 6 p.m. I get to go home, eat, do homework and then my day starts again. It’s a lot.”

Ames is captain of the Mesa College softball team and maintains a 3.4 grade-point average at PLNU and a 3.8 GPA at Mesa, where her courses are all online. She did take on-campus classes until the coronavirus pandemic cut them short, and she resumed classes online.

The choice to play softball was always Savannah’s, according to Blake Ames, who said she wasn’t the type of parent to push her children to do something they weren’t passionate about.

“Knowing there’s an ending and seeing what you’ll accomplish in the end is huge for her,” Blake said of her daughter’s persistence with softball. “That makes all the difference, seeing that end result.”

The Mesa College women’s softball team plays 40 games per season — 20 at home, 20 away.

“When we travel, we go in the school vans,” Guidi said, “so coming back home, if we were stuck in traffic from L.A. for two hours, [Ames] would be studying in the van … typing on her laptop, just getting her stuff done because she’d know she had to do it.”

For Ames, the coronavirus brought a silver lining: It gave her one more year of eligibility to play college softball. Despite graduating from PLNU this year, she will return to Mesa College in the spring for four more months of playing time.

“I’m ready for next year; I’m ready to play,” she said. “It’ll probably be my last year playing softball, which is sad, so I just want to give it my all.”

‘Above and beyond anybody else’

According to longtime friend Rileigh Taylor, who played softball with Ames from elementary school until 2017, when Ames started college, Ames’ leadership skills have always been an inspiration to teammates.

“She was good at telling people when they needed to step up, but was always kind to our teammates,” Taylor said.

Then-teammates Savannah Ames, Maddie Jacobs, Faith Via, Rileigh Taylor and Autumn Perry after a travel ball tournament.
Then-teammates Savannah Ames, Maddie Jacobs, Faith Via, Rileigh Taylor and Autumn Perry gather after a travel ball tournament at Robb Athletic Field in Ocean Beach.
(Courtesy)

Ames’ official positions in softball are outfield and second base, but she and Guidi agree that it doesn’t always work out that way — her position is whatever it has to be.

“She was a kid that I could prepare in one day and be like, ‘OK, tomorrow you’re playing shortstop,’” Guidi said. “‘Oh, OK, I’ll do it.’ There was no questions asked. ... I like her temperament that way.

“She’s doing above and beyond anybody else, so, of course, the girls are going to respect her. It’s like, ‘Oh, I’m tired today.’ ‘Well, Sav’s taking four more classes. Come on.'“

Many parents and students don’t realize that being a dual student and athlete is a possibility, Guidi said, and she uses Ames as an example when recruiting new players who think they have to give up softball to go to their desired college.

Ames said her success is aided by her trusty planner, in which she keeps track of everything she has to do, hour by hour.

“There’s no white space left … I literally have to be organized in order to make this work, otherwise I don’t know how I would do it,” she said.

Savannah Ames' planner is full to keep track of her 24 units and softball events.
(Courtesy)

It may not be surprising, then, that she’s considering pursuing a career as an event planner after college.

When asked if Ames has always been so organized, her mother responded with a laugh, “No.” But, she added, “she’s always set goals for herself — short term and long term — she’s always been good about that.”

More than cleats and planners

Ames’ life has always involved athleticism — she has played everything from soccer to basketball to tennis, she took up ballet and was the cheer captain at Point Loma High.

“I guess sports is just my thing,” she said. “If I’m not playing sports, it’s weird for me, honestly.”

“I literally have met my lifelong friends playing softball,” she added. “I have the closest friends ever. ... They always push me to do my best, and I’ve just had the greatest memories and times with my softball friends.”

When she’s not at the batting cages or studying for a test, she’s at the beach or a family barbecue. “I’m very family-oriented,” she said.

Her parents’ divorce when she was 10 was instrumental in her personal development, she said. “That was super hard on my brothers and I, [but] I feel like that has made me the person I am today. I know there are hardships in life, but I know I can get through them. … I want to build something of myself and be the best person I can be, and I feel like my mom has taught me that — to be a strong woman and always fight for what you want and just never give up.”

Having been in Mothers and Daughters Club Assisting Philanthropies from seventh grade until she graduated from high school, Ames is very community-oriented, according to her mother. Through MADCAPS, she has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, the San Diego River Walk Foundation, Rady Children’s Hospital, the Susan B. Komen breast cancer walk and more.

Ames’ final season playing softball will begin in mid-January and end in May — unless she decides to pursue a master’s degree, she said. In that case, she’ll be dusting off her cleats to go one more round.

Editor’s note: The Point Loma-OB Monthly’s “People in Your Neighborhood” series shines a spotlight on notable locals we all wish we knew more about. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send an email to robert.vardon@lajollalight.com.


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