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Fifth-year senior looking to bounce back from injury-filled year

Published: Monday, January 30, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

Softball

UTEP ATHLETICS / Special to The Prospector

Redshirt senior catcher Camilla Carrera steps into the batter’s box during a game last season at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

After being forced to watch a team with the second-worst record in program history from the dugout last season, fifth-year senior catcher Camilla Carrera is ready to lead again. Coming off another back injury, the 2012 season will be a chance for Carrera to duplicate the success she had early in her career.

"It feels great, I've been working hard on it all last spring. I've been strengthening it," Carrera said. "During the fall and this part of the spring so far, I've done a lot to make sure I am stronger and that my back is not going to be a problem."

Carrera brings plenty of accolades with her into her senior year, being named the C-USA Player of the Year in 2009 and an All-C-USA first team selection from 2008-10. She also made the 2008 All-C-USA Freshman First Team. Prior to the 2011 season, she was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year. Carrera missed all but 12 games of the 2011 season due to a back injury and received a medical redshirt.

"Some of my teammates were happy to know that I was going to be redshirting just because they knew I wasn't at my full potential. It was nice to know that my team supports me and that I can be there for my team," Carrera said. "Even though last year I wasn't able to be with the senior class, being with the senior class this year is a good thing. I love everybody on my team."

Co-head coach Kathleen Rodriguez knows that sitting out the year has given Carrera a new perspective in her approach as a player and a teammate.

Since Rodriguez, along with husband and co-head coach James Rodriguez, preach a family-type atmosphere within the team, they expect their players to be there for one another.

"I think we're pretty good at understanding how and what role we take on the team. Cami is one of the best players in the nation. She's been an all-region player," Kathleen Rodriguez said. "It's a neat thing to be able to see the respect she has for her teammates and that they have for her as well."

Kathleen Rodriguez added that it was tough to see one of her best players sit out for the majority of the season, but that made Carrera more humble and a better leader.

"It's been a little bit of a trial, she's really excited about this year. It was really hard for her having to sit down and watch her team struggle so much last year. Being one of our team leaders, it was tough to watch all that unfold," Kathleen Rodriguez said. "She vowed that she was going to have one of the best years she's ever had and the way things are going, I truly believe her."

Carrera has been with the team for four years now and is heading into her fifth season. She expects to be at full strength after a year of rehab and hopes to have her best season yet.

"We're just taking it one day at a time with my practice and my team. We're making sure that I'm putting every bit of work that I can. Just making sure I'm all the way prepared for this season," Carrera said. "This is a big year. I want to make sure I go out with a bang."

Expectations for Carrera are high not only for herself, but from the coaching staff as well.

"I expect a lot from her, she's been with this program, which this is going to be her fifth year and she's a little bit more mature," Kathleen Rodriguez said. "I expect her to be able to lead us. I expect her in clutch situations to just be that: to be clutch."

Daniel Ornelas may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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