Sam Alberto does it for the love of the game

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Tinley Park’s Sam Alberto has a very low-key personality.

“In her first three years she said three words and smiled once — after our third-place victory,” Titans coach Wendy Podbielniak said.

With her bat, however, Alberto speaks volumes.

So far in 2014 (through Tuesday), Alberto is hitting. 385, with two home runs, six RBI and a walk for the 4-0 Titans.

In 2013, the then-junior third baseman hit .439, with 10 home runs, 31 RBI and 28 runs. She earned second team all-state honors and was signed by Olivet Nazarene University to a softball scholarship.

As a senior, she’s smiling a lot more.

“Oh, it was great,” Alberto said when asked about last season’s 24-7 record and Tinley Park’s first appearance at a state finals weekend. “It kind of was just like, really indescribable, our run.”

“In the beginning we set the goal to go to state, and that was just our goal all year and we were working toward it. And with the team we had, I knew we were going to state.”

Just hearing the words “What about softball does it?” made her eyes brighten.

“At Tinley … it’s a small school and it’s like you’re a family,” she said. “We’re all just really close. That and I guess it’s the love of the game that does it.”

Alberto is a four-year varsity player. As a freshman in 2011, she DH’d and had a lot of success until suffering a dislocated hand near the end of the season.

As a sophomore she claimed third base as her own, and she’s been an anchor there for the Titans ever since.

“Sam is all about her teammates,” Podbielniak said. “She could care less about credit or recognition. She cares about her performance and how it affects the success of her team.

“She is strong physically and mentally — one of the fiercest competitors I’ve had the honor to coach.”

Alberto’s 10th home run of the 2013 season was her favorite. It came in the sixth inning of the Class 3A third-place game against Sterling and started a two-run rally to tie the score at 4-4. In the seventh, she drove an RBI single to send in Alyssa Gunther as the Titans won, 5-4.

It was a very familiar case of clutch hitting.

“I guess my strength is hitting the way I hit, getting on base and trying to get people in,” Alberto said. “I work on my hitting a lot … every day at practice and sometimes I go home and hit with my dad.”

Alberto is a three-sport athlete at Tinley, also playing on the volleyball and basketball teams.

“You’re just always doing something,” she said. “It gives you motivation to keep up your grades. And I like always being busy. It’s like having three other families.”

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