San Antonio – While in high school, former St. Mary’s University star softball player Arlynda Flores would get to school as early as 5 a.m. on most mornings.

Her punctuality provided a chance to get in extra softball work before classes began, but it also proved to offer something else–a gateway to cross country, a sport known for its wee-hour-of-the-morning workouts.

Now, months after graduating from St. Mary’s with a double major in exercise and sports science and mathematics, the Uvalde native has seen the two sports intertwine once again.

Flores (B.A., 10) has been named St. Mary’s assistant softball coach and head cross country coach. In addition to coaching, she will continue to pursue her master’s degree in educational leadership.

“It’s pretty special,” said Flores, 22. “I had eventually wanted to coach here. I just never dreamed it would happen right after I graduated.”

“I really think she and I can grow together as a staff,” head coach Donna Fields said. “What’s different about Arlynda from a lot of players is the commitment to the sport. Trying to drive athletes to be an athlete all year long is probably one of the biggest challenges a coach has. Those individuals that really breathe it, that’s Arlynda.”

Flores probably never would have been introduced to cross country at all if not for her overzealous approach toward softball.

Having observed how early she would arrive at Uvalde High School, the school’s cross country coach came to Flores with an idea one morning. Since you’re already here so early, why not run cross country? Flores heeded the offer her sophomore year, knowing long-distance running ultimately would benefit her pitching.

At St. Mary’s, where she transferred from Ohio State prior to her sophomore year, Flores enjoyed a record-breaking career on the softball diamond. She hit a school-record-tying 24 home runs to go along with a school-record 72 RBIs and 56 runs scored as a junior. The performance saw her net loads of honors, including being named first team All-American as a utility player by Daktronics and earning Heartland Conference Player of the Year honors. She also was named CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District for maintaining a 3.66 grade-point average.

Flores totaled 38 home runs and 140 RBIs in three seasons with the Rattlers.

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