The morning of Sept. 1 changed the life of Nellian McEnroe-Marinas forever.
The Maryknoll junior was awake and ready when the first phone call came in. And the second, third and fourth. Fourteen calls later, it was 3 a.m. and time to shut things down. Being rated as one of the top shortstops in the nation has a way of drawing plenty of attention from top college softball programs.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now, just keeping busy with the whole recruiting process and all of that,” McEnroe-Marinas said. “It’s a surprise when they all start calling. It’s a lot.”
Close to 50 colleges are interested in the slugging shortstop, according to her father, Brian Marinas. The process is ongoing, but McEnroe-Marinas finally counted her official offers on Wednesday, a total of 16.
“I just say it’s a lot. I don’t want to count them. I don’t want to say a specific number,” she said. “One school offered me 75 percent for the first year and 100 percent for the rest of my years. Most of the other schools offered me full rides.”
When Sept. 1 arrived, colleges could speak directly to McEnroe-Marinas, known to family and friends as “Nelly,” for the first time.
“The first call was from Melissa Lombardi of the University of Oregon at exactly midnight. She’s the head coach and she FaceTimed me. She was standing in the middle of their softball field,” McEnroe-Marinas said. “Once I answered, multiple calls came.”
Ten minutes later, Texas A&M coach Jo Evans rang.
“She said on the spot she was going to give me a full ride,” said McEnroe-Marinas, who has a 3.75 grade-point average.
Moments later, national champion Oklahoma called. The phone was stayed warm for three hours until she finally hit the sack.
“My mom (Shanelle Gomes-McEnroe) talked with them sometimes. I was at her house that night. My dad was home at his house and he was crashed out,” McEnroe-Marinas said. “I took a screenshot of my call log and sent it to him.”
Of course, school beckoned a few hours later. However, her schedule has amazing flexibility.
“My first class started at 12 that day. I only have two classes (on Wednesdays),” she noted.
Maryknoll won the ILH softball title last spring, and McEnroe-Marinas invested plenty of time and energy into a busy summer. She played in the Zoom Into June tournament (Calif.), then the Colorado Fireworks tourney in Denver.
“I made the Polynesia team so we went to Colorado. From there I made the World team and we played the USA team,” she recalled.
McEnroe-Marinas played in the TC (Triple Crown) Nationals in Chino, Calif. That was followed by the Alliance Fast Pitch Championships in Oklahoma City, Okl.
One of her teammates during travel softball was a friend from Maryknoll, second baseman Carys Murakami.
In all, there were plenty of games, plenty of scouting.
“We did play a lot of games, especially with Alliance. Probably more than 40,” McEnroe-Marinas said. “My exposure was way more from summers especially with my (Firecrackers Brashear) coach, Sean Brashear. He’s known for sending his girls to colleges.”
With two more prep softball seasons ahead, there are plenty of highlights and memories to come. More offers, too. For now, McEnroe-Marinas’ top four list is Oregon, Oklahoma, Washington and UCLA.
“Because she already shared her top four, a lot of coaches are backing off,” Maryknoll coach John Uekawa said. “She is a great fielder. She comes as a total package. She has a passion to play. She’s always asking her dad, ‘Can we hit more balls?’ She just loves the game.”
Oregon (40-17) was ranked No. 15 by Softball America and No. 17 in the NCAA rankings. Oklahoma, powered by former Campbell slugger Jocelyn Alo, went 56-4 en route to the national title. Washington (45-14) finished No. 11 in the Softball America rankings and No. 18 in the NCAA rankings. UCLA (47-7) closed the season No. 5 in SA and No. 3 in NCAA rankings.
“My parents are just excited, super excited for me. They always talk about me going to college for free. My mom has a master’s degree and she’s still paying for it,” McEnroe-Marinas said.
Nelly McEnroe-Marinas’ lockdown staples
Top 3 movies/shows
1. “Real Steel.”
“It’s about this guy and his son and they’re into this whole robot fighting thing.”
2. “Criminal Minds.”
“I only watch it on Netflix. I’ve seen it all, around six seasons or something like that.”
Top 3 food/snacks/drinks
1. Kal bi (L&L Hawaiian BBQ, Waianae).
2. Coconut water (C2O).
3. Raw cookie dough (Nestlé Toll House).
“I won’t eat the entire thing raw, but I’ll probably eat most of it. We still make cookies with it.”
Top 3 music artists
1. Nicki Minaj – “Pills N Potions”
2. Bryson Tiller – “Don’t”
3. Drake – “Fountains” (ft. Tems)
New life skill: Naps.
“I learned how to take naps. I used to not take naps at all. I nap every other day.”
Bats: Easton Ghost 2020. It’s a 34/24 -10.
“It’s gray and white. I got it brand new. I actually went through five of them. They all cracked. I don’t know how many hits, but I know they last only a couple of months. Oh my gosh, like $300 (each). Both my parents pay for it. I might have to switch over to Louisville because my 18U team, Firecrackers, are sponsored by Louisville.”
Glove: Wilson A2000.
“It’s gray, red and blue. I have a middle infielder glove. That cost $200 something. I just got another glove because my (Firecrackers) team was sponsored by Easton, too. They gave us free black and red gloves, Easton gloves.”
“My grandma, Tammy (McEnroe). Hey, Tam Tam! She’s super loud and she doesn’t care, and she’s always supporting me. Just like my papa (Russell Gomes). My parents, of course, and all my coaches. I have a lot of coaches.”