As a young girl growing up in Agua Dulce, California, Krista Sutliff hit, ran, stole and slid knowing that was her destiny. No matter how tough it became, she always got up, patted the dirt off herself and kept working to be the best she could be.

Now a senior exercise science major at Goshen College, Sutliff has realized her sporting dreams, leading Goshen College’s softball team as captain (2015-2017), and holding the record for most walks in a single season in 2013. She’s also started for the Goshen Maple Leafs as the second baseman since her freshman year.

“The process hasn’t been the easiest,” said Sutliff, “but it’s been the most rewarding.”

Sutliff was first introduced to softball at age 6 by her father who later became her coach. During high school, Sutliff participated in both soccer and dance but never outgrew her love for softball.

“I played softball, soccer and was captain of my dance team during my freshman and sophomore year of high school,” Sutliff said. “However, my dad made me choose just one in order to become more disciplined, so that in the future I could obtain a college scholarship.”

Sutliff’s father, Daryl Sutliff, coached Krista for a total of 16 years. His love for the game created Burbank Fusion, a competitive girl’s fast pitch travel ball team.

The travel ball team called for a higher level of competition,  compared to what a traditional league offers, and a higher focus on college recruitment. Sutliff’s father created the team with a mission to get team members noticed from colleges. Sutliff said, “You travel to showcases where coaches will be at to look at girls play softball.”

Sutliff’s perseverance and hard work all paid off when Lee Mast, former Maple Leafs softball coach, saw her play on Burbank Fusion. Sutliff was recruited and offered a scholarship to study and play softball at Goshen College.

Upon receiving this offer, Sutliff and her father decided to visit the college in 2012.

“I knew Goshen was the fit for me because my father was extremely impressed with the campus and athletic department,” said Sutliff. “He really wanted me to go out of state in order to gain independence. He would always say, ‘You grow up faster when you live outside of where you were born.’”

Two months after visiting Goshen College, Sutliff and her family experienced a great loss. Sutliff’s father passed away in December 2012 from a sudden heart attack.

After the death of her father, the answer became clearer as to where she would attend college.

“If it weren’t for my father, I don’t think I would be here today. My father fell in love with Goshen College and he really wanted me to go here. So here I am fulfilling the dream he instilled in me.”

During Sutliff’s sophomore year of college, she admits that she toyed with the idea of quitting softball. She wanted to keep her focus on academics and take a break from the sport. However, Sutliff decided against it because, as Sutliff said, “of my dad. My father has always been my key motivator, and I wanted to finish it out for him. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sport, but I love being able to say that I played softball all through my college life for him.”

After college, Sutliff aspires to be an exercise physiologist. Sutliff’s father suffered from a cardiopulmonary disease which caused the heart attack. “I’m really interested in becoming an exercise physiologist because I want to work with people who have heart problems in order to help prevent others from losing a loved one from a heart attack like I did.”

Sutliff will be finishing up her final season of softball at the end of April. After her final game, she will be able to proudly say, “I finished this for you dad.”