Nellian McEnroe-Marinas’ high school coach compares her to Jocelyn Alo.
Her club coach in California calls the sophomore a Top 10 player nationally. No matter the praise, family and friends call her Nelly. She misses her teammates and classmates at Maryknoll as Hawaii remains in COVID-19 lockdown.
“I don’t like online (classes) that much. It’s harder to focus sitting in front of a computer screen because of distractions,” McEnroe-Marinas said on Tuesday. “One-hundred percent, it’s my phone. I do shut it off, but I’ll turn it back on sometimes. (My friends and I) text during class. Some of my teachers, it’s harder to understand what they’re saying on the computer.”
She has a 3.8 grade-point average. She stands 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 152 pounds honed in the weight room. In tournament play in California last winter, McEnroe-Marinas batted .465 with 14 home runs.
Her booming bat and smooth execution at shortstop caught the eye of recruiters during a November tournament in California. She was ranked No. 18 for the class of 2023 by Extra Inning Softball. Firecrackers coach Sean Brashear believes she would be ranked in the Top 10 if the summer hadn’t been wiped out, according to her father, Brian Marinas.
Coaches from at least four Pac-12 Conference schools expressed their interest in McEnroe-Marinas during a tournament last November. Because NCAA softball rules prohibit direct contact regarding scholarship offers until junior year of high school, McEnroe-Marinas doesn’t know precisely which universities have contacted Coach Brashear.
“He didn’t tell us specifically, but they’re schools in Arizona, Washington, Oregon and California,” she said.
Arizona State is interested.
“I was playing in a tournament and an assistant coach came to see me play,” said McEnroe-Marinas, who also participated in a camp at UCLA in the summer of 2019.
“Lisa Fernandez of UCLA. We went to one of her camps last summer (’19) and she kept in contact (with Coach Brashear),” McEnroe-Marinas said. “My dream school was the Florida Gators, but now it’s UCLA. I want to go to UCLA. Coach (Fernandez) has a lot of connections to the Junior Olympics and Olympics, and that’s where I want to go.”
All that tournament play on the West Coast added up as her freshman season began. She was 3-for-8 in her first two ILH games, including a home run against Mid-Pacific in her first plate appearance. Counting preseason games, McEnroe-Marinas batted .375 with four RBIs, a homer and a double before the season was cancelled. Maryknoll was 1-1.
“Jocelyn Alo would be a close comparison. Nelly hits for power, for average and is very versatile,” Maryknoll coach John Uekawa said.
Alo was Star-Advertiser player of the year at Campbell in 2017. In two seasons at Oklahoma, Alo has hit .399 with 46 home runs, 128 RBIs, a slugging percentage of .853 and an on-base percentage of .517. Like McEnroe-Marinas, Alo is 5-8.
“She can play anywhere,” Uekawa said of McEnroe-Marinas. “She will be an instant starter for any Division I team. She will get better as she gets more experienced.”
Summer trips back to the mainland for tournaments also went by the wayside due to the COVID-19 pandemic. McEnroe-Marinas didn’t change her regimen.
“I have my own workout by myself. I do cardio work. Sprints and ladders in the back yard. Sometimes I search high-intensity workouts on YouTube. I come to my auntie (Briana Uiti)’s house and we use her weights. Bench press. Squat rack,” she said. “We do legs one day and the next day, upper body.”
Her max on the squat rack is 225 pounds. Dead lift, 205.
“Everything else, we just do reps. And we go to the park,” she added.
There was a bit of a reprieve during the summer.
“We played half a season in a league. Our team was YFT, like your favorite team. It’s a bunch of our old friends coming together to play for one season, friends from when I was younger,” she said. “I played for Hawaii Titans, Kulia and Easton Prep.”
McEnroe-Marinas is about to get live action in two weeks with the Firecrackers.
“We’re going to a tournament in California, then Arizona,” she said.
Tools of the trade
McEnroe-Marinas has two white Easton Ghost 2019 bats and a Louisville Slugger. All three are 34/24.
“I only use the 34 Easton bat. I cracked one of them. I think it was at our home field at practice. I heard it, but I didn’t notice until a couple of days after,” she said.
The Easton Ghost 2019 goes for $350.
“I got two seasons of hits, maybe half a year, but there’s a warranty,” she said.
There’s an odd result with a cracked bat.
“The ball goes way farther,” McEnroe-Marinas said. “I have no idea why.”
Brian Marinas grew up on aluminum bats.
“The technology now, they’re taking it to another level. A 13-year-old girl, she hits it 300 feet, clearing the 200-foot fence with ease,” he said.
The Louisville Slugger is in hibernation, waiting its chance.
“I don’t like the sound and the feel when you make contact,” McEnroe-Marinas said. “It feels uneven.”
Her mitt is cherished.
“It’s a Wilson A200, gray, red and dark blue. We bought it during a PGF tournament (in California) last year. It was $320,” she said. “I had to break mine in with oil and shaving cream. One of my old coaches oiled it down for me. Then we ran it over with my dad’s truck and I wrapped it with a ball in it.”
McEnroe-Marinas also plays some third and second base, so one glove is all she needs. She misses her old footwear.
“I use Mizuno metal cleats right now, but this is my first time using metal. My whole career, I only used soccer shoes. In high school, I have to use actual softball cleats. I think it’s a rule,” McEnroe-Marinas said. “I miss my soccer shoes. In my opinion, they’re lighter, but my coaches wanted me to use actual metal cleats.”
College is a ways off, but she already knows her major.
“For a long time, I’ve wanted to major in forensic science. FBI work. Field work. Detective work,” she said.
While many student-athletes learned new life skills like mowing a lawn, making pasta or rebuilding homes, McEnroe-Marinas learned an invaluable one prior to the pandemic.
“I learned how to not drown in big waves. That’s a big thing right there. I used to get pounded at Yokohama Bay, so my dad was teaching me. I still get pounded, but you just go under the water, hold your breath and just wait until the wave is over. You’re going to end end up on the sand eventually,” she said. “I learned the hard way. He used to fly me in the water and teach me how to swim.”
It has been months since the family enjoyed the ocean.
“We haven’t been to the beach since the pandemic. My mom didn’t want to risk it,” McEnroe-Marinas said. “My mom is the strict one.”
Top 3 movies/shows
1. Criminal Minds. “Det. Hotch and Det. Morgan. They’re just not scared of anything.”
2. The Vampire Diaries. “There’s seven or eight seasons. I started awhile ago and stopped. I started watching again during the pandemic.”
3. Real Steel. “This guy and his son found a fighting robot. It’s an old movie.”
Top 3 food/snacks/drinks
1. Kal bi from L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Waianae. “I’ve been eating their kal bi my whole life.”
2. Mom (Shanelle)’s fried rice. “Absolutely the bomb. Eggs, Portuguese sausage, bacon, Spam and whatever secret sauce she puts in there. She’s not going to tell me.”
3. Yoo-hoo chocolate drink. “I can chug one in five seconds, done.”
Top 3 music artists
1. Bryson Tiller. “It’s a mix of pop and sad music.”
3. Nicki Minaj.