Michelle Santiago is one of the best players from the Orlando, FL area in the Class of 2020.
The 5-foot-3, 125-pound Santiago, who attends Liberty High School, is a dynamic player that works as an outfielder.
Santiago has earned plenty of recognition during her outstanding career, such as being selected twice for USSSA Atlantic National team (12u and 14u), winning two MVP awards (freshman and sophomore year) and being selected as Player of the Year.
Santiago is humbled by the accolades.
“It really means a lot to me. Getting these awards makes me feel like I’m achieving my goal and I’m where I want to be,” Santiago said. “It was really fun, playing with USSSA. It helped me learn a lot things. I got to meet girls from different places like Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina. Got to communicate with the girls and it was fun to play with them in the field. We didn’t know each other from the first day and we turned out to talk a lot later on. We did all sorts of stuff and got to see the pride team, where I met Kelly Kretschman, my favorite softball player.”
No matter the opponent, on each play Santiago is determined to give it her all.
Santiago is going all out.
The motor is always at full throttle whenever Santiago steps between the lines.
“Being a center fielder is really about communication and thinking what to do with the next play and to help your outfield where to move at,” Santiago said.
Santiago has great passion and energy whenever she’s on the diamond. Santiago tells why she enjoys the game of softball so much.
“I love to dive. Catching in the outfield and diving for a ball is my top favorite,” Santiago said. “Stealing is also the best for me. I also love playing with my team. That always keeps my energy up.”
Santiago has learned many valuable lessons from playing softball that she applies to her everyday life.
The main one is applying perspective to all situations.
“Playing softball has taught me to be strong and to make smart decisions,” Santiago said. “It has also given me confidence.”
Santiago recalls her favorite softball memory.
“My favorite memory is when my high school team were down 2-8 against East River. A team that is really good and in Liberty High School has never beat. It was the bottom of the fifth and we never stop cheering, we kept on cheering till the end. One of the player of my team hit a shot to the right field and made a double. And then the girls kept on hitting, we were in a rally. Than it was two outs with the score was 6-8 and I was up to bat,” Santiago said. “Girls on second and third. I hit the ball right to center field and it brought two girls in. It was a triple. I tie it 8-8 and then my teammate hits the ball and I got in home and we won 9-8. It was an exciting game and I am proud of my sisters who never gave up and never put their heads down. We fought to the end and made history for our school.”
Kathrin Pennanen has coached Santiago for two years at Liberty High School.
Pennanen explains the best parts of Santiago’s game.
“This is my second year of coaching Michelle at Liberty High School. Michelle is what coaches call the complete package,” Pennanen said. “She is extremely talented, a team player, coachable and always gives 110 percent on the practice field and the playing field.”
Santiago takes her role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Santiago makes sure she’s a daily positive influence on her peers.
“A good teammate is someone who doesn’t give attitudes and it’s someone who always keeps their head up. Someone who cheerson the field and in the dugout. A good teammate is also giving advice to your teammate,” Santiago said. “The best advice I give is to always have faith.”
Pennanen adds that Santiago is one of those consummate teammates that every squad needs to be successful.
“Her dedication and commitment level clearly demonstrate her love of softball,” Pennanen said. “That attitude has a contagious effect on the team.”
Santiago is appreciative of having amazing role models that are supportive.
“My coaches has taught me to never doubt myself and to never give up,” Santiago said. “They have always taught me to practice what you are taught to get better results and the more you practice the more you learn to play the game.”
Pennanen is an advocate of Santiago’s capabilities.
“She is by far the best center fielder I have ever had the opportunity see play that position,” Pennanen said. “She goes after every hit ball like it’s the game winning out.”
In addition to making clutch plays, Santiago also has a high level of softball IQ as well.
Santiago has excellent awareness that puts her in position to thrive.
“Michelle is a smart ball player, she has a sense of what is about to happen before it happens,” Pennanen said. “She is always on top of her game. On offense because of her speed, she is always looking to get an extra base from her hits and her teammates hits.”
Santiago is on the grind to perfect and hone her craft in any way possible.
“She is a very hard worker that always gives it her all and wants to improve each day,” Pennanen said. “She is very coachable and that sets a great example for her other teammates to follow.”
Santiago is constantly striving for greatness in everything that she does.
“My goal is to never give up,” Santiago said. “It doesn’t matter what any negative things people say as long as you believe in what you want to achieve and to never give up on it.”
Santiago explains her collegiate aspirations.
“I would love to play at either Jacksonville University or Florida Atlantic University,” Santiago said. “They both have strong soccer programs and I would like to remain the state for college. Also I love that they are both close to the beach and have strong academics.”
Santiago lists marine biology as her favorite subject in school.
“I love the ocean and love to be in the beach,” Santiago said.
Pennanen is confident Santiago is willing to do whatever it takes to keep growing as a player.
“Michelle is a team player and will do whatever is necessary to improve herself and her teammates,” Pennanen said.
Pennanen believes the sky is the limit as long as Santiago continues to stay hungry.
“Michelle plans to attend college as she would be an asset to any college level team,” Pennanen said. “She has the skills to play on the next level. I think she can accomplish all of her dreams and I look forward to witnessing her having a special career.”
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