Sammy Ruiz and Jazz Zenk have been playing softball together for many years, first getting together on the south Snohomish County’s Alderwood Little League All-Star team as 10-year-olds. They went on to play on some of the same club teams, and are now the two best players on a Mountlake Terrace squad that is aiming for a return trip to the 2A state tournament.
As such, they’ve developed a tight bond. So how do they hang out off the field?
“Well, we do a lot of homework together,” Ruiz said, laughing. “We’re in a lot of the same Advanced Placement classes. Sometimes when our team is doing a bonding (activity), me and Jazz are off to the side doing schoolwork. It’s pretty funny.”
Ruiz and Zenk are good students and have similar career goals, so that’s not a surprise. Their similarities on the softball field mesh well together as well.
“We both have internal fire and aggression and competitiveness,” Zenk said. “We’re used to competing with each other, and we’ve made each other better our whole lives. I’m more open and vocal, and she’s more internal and leads by example. It works out well because we don’t clash with each other too much.”
Both players were named to the all-Wesco 3A first team last season.
Zenk, a third baseman, posted a .456 batting average, .551 on-base percentage, .753 slugging percentage, seven doubles and five home runs in 2017.
“Jazz is a complete hitter,” said Mountlake Terrace coach Shannon Rasmussen. “She has power, and she’s really reliable in a pinch. She has no fear at third base. She’ll throw her body in front of a ball to knock it down. Her mentality is that no ball is going to get past her.”
Ruiz, a shortstop, slashed .526/.578/.736, with 10 doubles and two home runs last spring.
“Sammy is smaller in stature, but has a ton of power,” Rasmussen said. “She comes through with a lot of big clutch hits, and she’s speedy on the bases. She’s got one of the better gloves in the league and a strong arm.”
Ruiz isn’t sure yet what college she’ll attend, or if she’ll continue her softball career, although she is garnering some interest. She wants to study biology with an eye on pediatric oncology or sports medicine.
“I’ve loved kids since I was a little girl, and I’ve always wanted to help people and make a difference in other peoples’ lives,” she said. “That’s the way my parents raised me. I’m very passionate about that. I’ve always known that I wanted to go into medicine.”
Before deciding to dedicate most of her free time to softball, Ruiz was a dancer.
“I started at Applause Studio (in Bothell) when I was 3 and ended when I was 11,” she said. “I did a bit of everything — ballet, tap, hip-hop, breakdancing, jazz. I liked it because it was different from sports. In softball, I could get sweaty and be competitive and aggressive, and in dance I got to be more ‘girly’ and dress up and put on makeup and all of that.”
After graduation Zenk will attend Concordia University in Portland to attend its nursing school.
“I’ve known since I was younger that I wanted to go into the medical field because I have a passion for helping people,” she said. “Science used to be my least favorite subject, but once I got into high school and took AP classes and learned more, it’s become my favorite subject. I think I’m pretty prepared for what nursing school will bring me.”
Zenk describes herself as an “outdoors-y, nature type of girl” who enjoys hiking and loves to travel.
“I’ve been almost all over the United States (for select softball tournaments),” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of cool places. I liked the southern states like Florida — hot and tropical.”