C-USA MVP candidate Tufi stays grounded thanks to softball

April 9, 2015

Pauline TufiAnchorage’s Pauline Tufi doesn’t scare easy. Risk is her middle name and danger is her friend.

But she is scared to fail in softball.

The sport kept her grounded, taught her discipline and took her all the way to Louisiana Tech University. The 19-year-old is the state’s greatest softball player, a power-hitting, power-pitching combo to the likes Alaska has never seen.

“I want to represent my state, my family and the people that have helped me over the years,” she told me, “because it’s taken a village to raise me to be the person I am today. I’m not gonna lie.”

Only a sophomore, Tufi is already one of the best players in Conference USA and arguably an MVP candidate as the only player in the league to rank in the top 10 in home runs and earned runs allowed.

Talk about a two-headed terror, which is exactly what she was like growing up.

“I was a wild child, honestly,” she said with a laugh.

Tufi, of West High fame, credits playing sports for keeping her focused and her support circle for making sure she stayed on course. They saw something special in her, even the times when she didn’t.

“My family, my coaches, my friends, it took a lot because, like, I was crazy,” she said. “But getting into sports pulled my energy away from those things. I got to put it into something productive. I needed sports to take my minds off of things going on around me.”

Today, Tufi terrorizes Conference USA.

The 5-foot-10 slugger leads LaTech in home runs [9], RBIs [27] and walks [20] while also serving as one of the team’s three pitchers. The right-hander is 4-0 with 5 saves and a 2.56 ERA.

“It feels great, but I can’t think of the overall picture right now or overwhelm my thoughts because I take it day-by day,” she said. “That’s the thing I’ve come to learn with softball in college is that there’s a process and you have to take it pitch by pitch and play your game.”