For Stephanie Ceo, softball is the family business

Claire Cruz

For many great athletes, training starts at a young age. They dedicate their lives to a sport and reap the benefits as they get older.

Junior second baseman Stephanie Ceo attributes her success to her early start in softball and to her family’s long history with the sport.

Stephanie has three older sisters — Britney, Natalie and Courtney — who all played softball growing up. Her parents, Brad and Kim, played baseball and softball growing up and are still involved with it today. The Ceos work with an 18-and-under program in their home state of California to help softball players make it to the collegiate level.

Stephanie said she never felt too much pressure to continue the family tradition. In fact, she said being coached by her parents and watching her sisters helped her get more prepared than the average freshman to play at the next level.

“Sometimes, when freshmen come in, they’re not prepared for the mental side of the game, whereas I came into college, and I was ready to start playing from the beginning,” Stephanie said. “[My family] helped me with my skills of course — but mentally, they prepared me so well to come into collegiate softball and make a difference.”

As a self-proclaimed visual learner, Stephanie said being the youngest sister helped her grown. She said she learned a lot from watching her sisters play and formed some of her own game around her sisters’ struggles and strengths.

“It was always a big motivator to be as good or better than they were,” Stephanie said. “Sometimes, sibling rivalry can become kind of a burden more than something that progresses you, but, in our family, it was always more that we wanted the best for each other.”

Her efficiency at the plate is one of the things her family helped her develop.

Stephanie’s father served as the hitting coach for Sierra College in 2012 when the Wolverines broke every California junior college hitting record. Her older sister Courtney was a standout hitter for the Oregon program from 2011 to 2014 and finished her career as the leader in three offensive categories.

Stephanie currently boasts a .311 batting average and is three RBIs away from reaching 50 in her career. As Texas faces Texas Tech in Lubbock this weekend for a Big 12 Conference series, Stephanie’s .483 road-game batting average will be a nice weapon.

Although the win-loss record in this matchup is swayed heavily in Texas’ favor, Stephanie and head coach Connie Clark are expecting a fight from the Red Raiders.

“We’ve played well on the road this year, but playing in Lubbock is always a challenge,” Clark said. “We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

The Longhorns (31–12, 6–3 Big 12) are entering this series with momentum from a crucial three-game sweep of Iowa State. Texas Tech (21–24, 5–7) is riding a four-game win streak after a conference sweep of their own over Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders will look to their leading hitter, junior Jordan Bettiol (.389), to spark their chances defeating Texas.

First pitch of the series is set for 6 p.m. on Friday.