Featured player: Gwen Pederson
Panthers Gold 16U has qualified for the PGF Nationals the past three years, but pitcher Gwen Pederson is hoping to help the Panthers get to the next level and a top-10 finish this year.
Pederson, a black belt in the “Foot Fist Way,” is the No. 3 hitter, most prolific home run hitter, No. 1 pitcher and the team captain for the Panthers.
Pederson will also play a major role for her high school team, Granada Hills Charter, which could be one of the surprise teams in the CIF LA City Section Division I playoffs this spring. The Highlanders lost to third-seeded Carson, 5-4, in eight innings in the quarterfinals last season.
Go “Inside The Dugout” to learn more about one of So Cal’s top uncommitted 2019 prospects.
INSIDE THE DUGOUT: PANTHERS GOLD’S GWEN PERDERSON
Gwen Pederson of Panthers Gold 16U. Photo/Michelle Pederson.
Name: Gwendolyn Pederson
High School: Granada Hills Charter of Granada Hills, CA.
Club Team: Panthers Gold 16U
Graduation Year: 2019
Height, weight: 5-6, 140
Honors: Second team All-West Valley League, Scholar Athlete Award, Sportsmanship Award and Honor Roll as a freshman at Granada Hills Charter.
Can you tell us a little about your background and how you ended up on your club team?
Pederson: “I started playing rec-ball at 3 (years old) and started travel in 10U with Easton Elite. (I) have played the last four years with the same team (Originally So Cal 3D Hernandez 2K1, now we are Panthers Gold 16u).”
Panthers Gold 16U at the Diamond 9 in Orlando, Fla. Photo/Michael Pederson.
Tell us about your experience at the 2016 PGF Nationals?
Pederson: “This was our third straight year at PGF Premier. We beat the No. 2-ranked team in our first game, but struggled a bit and finished 39th overall. We finished 17th two years ago and are looking forward to top 10 this year.”
What have you learned about yourself in the past year?
Pederson: “I learned that I am capable of overcoming the most difficult obstacles when I put my mind to it.”
What can we expect from your club team this year?
Pederson: “To establish Panthers Gold as one of the best teams in the nation.”
What can we expect from your high school team in the spring?
Pederson: “A CIF championship.”
What is something you have faced in your life that has helped you become the person that you are today?
Pederson: “Having an older sister that I always had to compete with made competition second nature to me.”
Who is the most underrated player on your team?
Pederson: “Sabrina Morales because she isn’t big, but she hits like a beast.”
Gwen Pederson is one of Panthers Gold’s most prolific power hitters. Photo/Daisy Fernandez.
What was it about softball that made you fall in love with the sport?
Pederson: “The team element, the competiveness, the strategy and challenges it brings.”
Was softball your first love or did you play other sports first?
Pederson: “Softball was my first sport and first love, but I’ve also played soccer, basketball, volleyball and I have a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.”
Was there a moment in your career when you thought, “Wow, I’m actually pretty good and might be able to play in college!”?
Pederson: “Probably, when I was still in 8U and pitched my team to the ASA District Championship.”
Which colleges have been showing interest in you?
Pederson: “Wisconsin, Utah Valley Central (and) a few others.”
What do coaches say they like most about you and your game?
Pederson: “My leadership, my competitiveness, my athleticism. They also like that I am coachable and that I am a good pitcher who hits very well.”
What’s been the highlight of your athletic career so far?
Pederson: “My favorite was probably pitching the final game for our first qualifier in PGF. I also liked hitting a grand slam at the USA Preps Best of the Best showcase in Vegas (recently).”
What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
Pederson: “That I am a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Pederson: “When you want to succeed as badly as you want to breathe, that is when you’ll be successful” – Eric Thomas
Clarissa Eliwein, Gwen Pederson and Sabrina Morales of Panthers Gold 16U. Photo/Maya Avila.
Fill in the blank: If I wasn’t playing softball, I’d be … writing a book or short stories.
Last movie you saw and what did you think of it: “Moana.” I loved it. I love all Disney movies.
If you were handed $10,000 and had to spend in one day, what would you do with it? I would buy a car, food and lots of puppies!
What’s the one thing/object, besides your phone, that you can’t live without? I can’t live without music.
Do you have any softball superstitions or rituals? I have the same exact routine every time I go up to bat or prepare for each pitch.
What’s your “guilty pleasure,” something you hate to admit you love? Chewing ice.
What’s the scariest thing in the world? Spiders.
If you could have a super power, what would you want it to be? Shapeshifting.
Last song/CD you bought: “Hey Jude” by the Beatles.
If you could have dinner with four people dead or alive, who would it be? Jennie Finch, Matthew Gray Gubler, Chance the Rapper and John Green.
Do you have a secret talent or skill? I am a very good writer.
What did you want to be when you were little?The first female President.
Something on your “must do” list: Bungee Jumping.
What is your hometown/area best known for and what makes you proud to say you’re from there? Sylmar was famous for Olive Groves back in the day, but I love the area and the view of the mountains is beautiful.
Favorite motto or philosophy of life: “Do what you love, love what you do.” — Hakuna Matata.