Tierra-Lyn Cuba knew she wanted to experience something different in college.
She’d spent a summer living in California, and Washington seemed a little too cold, so naturally, the 2007 Mililani graduate wound up in Oregon — Western Oregon to be exact.
"Looking at the West Coast I kind of just decided to pick in the middle," Cuba said. "I always knew I wanted to go to the mainland, wanted a different feel."
PROFILE | Tierra-Lyn Cuba
» College: Western Oregon
Surprisingly, softball wasn’t the main factor in Cuba’s decision. Cuba, who will graduate in the spring with a degree in health and forensic science, was big into chemistry, and based her choice on academics instead of athletics.
"I wasn’t going to play (softball), but one day my high school coach caught wind that the first baseman wasn’t coming back to the softball team at Western Oregon," Cuba said. "I played my freshman year and it’s been a ride."
Cuba begins her senior season this weekend in the Desert Invitational, which gets under way Friday in Las Vegas. Cuba is one of three seniors on a team that has finished in second place in the Division II Great Northwestern Athletic Conference in consecutive years.
The Wolves are picked to finish second again despite their inexperience. Twelve of the 19 players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores.
"We lost a lot of really good players and are young, but our young players have lots of talent," Cuba said. "This weekend will give us a good chance to see where we’re at."
Cuba started 37 of the 42 games she played in last year, hitting .283 with four homers and 18 RBIs as the team’s first baseman. She’s played in nearly 100 games in her collegiate career, but matching the accomplishments of her freshman season is her primary goal as a senior.
"We made it to the West Region final and eventually lost to the team that won the national championship," Cuba said. "That’s the most memorable (road trip) I’ve had and like every team, our goal is to get back there and try to make it even further."
The Wolves have had a successful run during Cuba’s time at WOU. In addition to making the NCAA tournament, Western Oregon finished 2010 with 32 wins, the second most in school history.
Cuba played alongside Sasha Koki, a St. Francis graduate, for three years, but is the only player from Hawaii on the team now.
"I was real fortunate to play with Sasha, but now I’m the only one left," Cuba said. "It’s fun, though, because we have a real young team, but I think they are very talented and are going to help us hopefully make a run."
Hawaii-Hilo is one of the six teams playing in this weekend’s tournament.