DePaul softball shortstop determined to make her mark in her final season


Sofia Leal

Shortstop Maranda Gutierrez warms up with members of the team before their game against Villanova on Friday.

If there is one word to describe Maranda Gutierrez, it’s determined. Whether it’s on the field with her teammates or in the classroom, the DePaul softball shortstop is determined to have an impact on those around her.

As a fifth year senior, Gutierrez has spent her entire career as a Blue Demon. She serves as a leader both on and off the field and has experienced a lot during her time at DePaul. Between Big East championships and the pandemic, Gutierrez’s time as a Blue Demon never saw a dull moment.

“There’s just so many small moments, like traveling and the jokes in the dugout or inside jokes or little rivalries between infielders and outfielders,” Gutierrez said of her time at DePaul. “Thos little things are really big, but of course, the Big East Championships and coming back and winning games are all really exciting.”

Gutierrez knew she wanted to play softball in college, but she wasn’t sure where. The Southern California native wanted to go far from her home and fell in love with Chicago — and how DePaul felt like family to her.

Softball has always been a big part of her family and her life. She began playing the sport when she was four, and her sister played as well, while her brother, father and grandfather all played baseball.

“I felt like it was in my blood to play,” Gutierrez said.

Once at DePaul, she had an immediate impact. In her freshman season, she started  all 52 games, where she had 42 hits and 20 runs.  In that year, the Blue Demons finished as the 2018 Big East Champions after defeating Creighton.

Her sophomore year, Gutierrez started in all 51 games and led the team with 40 runs. She was also named the 2019 Big East Defensive Player of the Year. That year, the Blue Demons were the Big East champions again with an 11-10 win over Villanova.

However, while her first two seasons were filled with action and success, it took Gutierrez a bit of time to build up her confidence transitioning into the role of a collegiate athlete.

“Some of the biggest challenges I think as a young player, if I look back on my freshman year, is having the confidence and believing in myself,” Gutierrez said. “I had done all the preparation, I played softball for so many years.”

With the pandemic putting a pause on her junior year season and affecting her senior season, Gutierrez came back to DePaul for a fifth year, where she returned with a determination to have an impact and enjoy her final season. So far this season, Gutierrez has 31 hits and 12 runs batted in, with a .935 fielding percentage.

“She’s determined to field every ball, she’s determined to hit every ball, she’s determined to do everything she can for our team to get the win, to help us in any way, shape or form, especially this year too, being a much more vocal leader with our team,” head coach Tracie Adix-Zins said. “She’s very determined in wanting to get us back to that championship game.”

Off the field, Gutierrez is studying elementary education with two minors in special education and teaching English as a second language. Her open and friendly personality has helped her connect with her teammates at DePaul and helps as she prepares to work with kids.

“She’s the person that’s always really upbeat even if their schedule is really hard, she’ll always bring a smiling face, she likes to pick people up,” graduate student second basewoman Skylor Hilger said. “I don’t know, I think she’s just like the sunshine that you know the team needs on hard days and she’s just there for everyone.”

Her teammates mean a lot to Gutierrez and some of her favorite memories at DePaul are the small moments that she had with her teammates while traveling and in the dugout.

Now, as her collegiate career wraps up, Gutierrez serves as a mentor for the younger members of the team. She remembers the challenges she faced with her confidence in her early college years, and is able to use that experience to help her teammates step up once she graduates.

“My advice to freshmen would be just believe in yourself, trust your training and just get after it,” Gutierrez said. “I think it took me a while in my freshman year to realize that but once I did, I felt I was comfortable.”