Desert Mountain alumna aids Phoenix College softball in success

Kara Golden, a former Desert Mountain softball player, has been a part of Phoenix College’s softball successes. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix College Softball)

It’s been another solid season so far for Phoenix College softball and one Desert Mountain High School graduate is helping propel the team to its national championship aspirations.

Sophomore outfielder Kara Golden graduated from DMHS in 2016. She’s spent the past two seasons at Phoenix College, a two-year junior college, where the Bears are ranked third in the nation in Division II — per an April 9 NJCAA poll.

As part of that run, Golden fits in as a leader on and off the diamond, Phoenix College Head Coach Heinz Mueller said.

“They (the freshmen) look at her and she sets an example,” he said. “She doesn’t necessarily have to be vocal but just by the way she handles herself and her body language and what she does on the field is really what stands her out as opposed to somebody that just doesn’t care. She cares a lot and it shows by her success.”

Coach Mueller said Golden can play all three outfield positions, but he puts her primarily in left field. She also bats between sixth and ninth where she is a triple threat hitter who can bunt, slap bunt or hit the ball.

Though she’s become a contributer to the Bears’ success, Golden still had to work to get there. She’s matured not only as a softball player but as a student and person in her two years with the program.

“I’ve just learned to become a better person in general,” she said.

“All the coaches here push you to be the best that you can be. When I start working, I’m going to know how to be a leader. I’m going to have great team leadership skills. I’m going to know great communication. Things like that are going to lead me to be successful in life.”

Learning and growth

Golden has played softball since she was 11 years old, when her mother first introduced her to the sport. At Desert Mountain, she played varsity for three years and was a top hitter her senior year.

Kara Golden, a former Desert Mountain softball player, has been a part of Phoenix College’s softball successes. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix College Softball)

She was the leadoff hitter and played in center field. Desert Mountain Head Coach Chris Fredericks, who coached Golden her senior season, said she was “one of the best defensive players in the state” as a senior.

“Kara had a unique blend of athleticism, speed, work ethic and softball IQ, which made her a great player and it has carried over to her success at Phoenix College,” Coach Fredericks said.

When it came time to advance, Golden said she knew Phoenix College would be a great fit.

“I knew a few players that have made their way through this program and I’ve only heard great things about it and I thought it would be a great start for me, considering I was just an average student in high school,” she said.

“I knew going into a DI school would be way overwhelming for me and so I knew coming here, I would learn a lot of my time management skills and I knew that I could excel really well here and get very prepared for the next level.”

As a freshman, Golden played in 58 of the team’s 62 games, compiling a batting average of .374 and an on-base percentage of .428 with 19 RBIs. The team also made it to the national championship game, falling to Jones County Community College.

Being on the diamond for a game of that caliber helped Golden reignite her already deep passion for softball because she saw herself and others getting more into the game than regular games.

Experiences like this, Coach Mueller said, are beneficial to the junior college experience because not many schools get that chance.

“We are so fortunate that we get a lot of good athletes that we have that opportunity almost every year,” Coach Mueller said. “So Kara’s part of that and that’s what we look to develop.”

So far this season, Golden is batting .382 with an on-base percentage of .455 but Coach Mueller said he’s seen her also grow in maturity.

Kara Golden, a former Desert Mountain softball player, has been a part of Phoenix College’s softball successes. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix College Softball)

Despite these improvements, Golden said she grew as a student and with her time management. She said she used to struggle with time management and academics but then she had a realization.

“I have become a way better student in the classroom, knowing that I need to put in my schoolwork before anything because if I don’t, I know that I’m going to let my team down if I don’t get good grades,” she said. “That motivates me to do my time in school too.”

Her success at Phoenix College, Coach Fredericks said, helps inspire players still at Desert Mountain to see what they can potentially accomplish.

With her growth and experience in tow, Golden is ready to take her talents to the next level. While her future destination is not certain yet, she will keep working toward a future that “is perfect for her.”

The regular season still continues into early May before the playoffs begin, meaning there’s still a long way to go before Golden wraps up this phase of her career. Still, she says Phoenix College is a place she will remember fondly.

“It’s like a family here,” she said. “I’m going to miss every single part of it.”

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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