Brand New Ball Game
With a new coach and a young team, Jurupa Valley High’s varsity baseball season began in a place of uncertainty. “In the beginning of the season, we were really underlooked by many of the students,” said Ramiro Venegas, senior and team captain.
New players lacked fundamentals. Older players were rusty after pandemic disruptions. There were injuries and issues with assigning positions.
Then the athletes found their rhythm. One turning point was the non-conference game versus Notre Dame High School, a team that JVHS lost to last year. “We were down in that game,” said Julio Jara, head coach. “But we came back, we rallied. That showed [the players] that they have the heart to fight back. That was a good win for us.”
“For us to [win] this year, with a young team, made me proud,” added Ramiro.
The team went on to claim second place in the Mountain Valley League with a record of 8-2. Though they lost in the first round of CIF, the players are proud of their performance this season. The hardships they faced only strengthened them as athletes and young men.
“People say that baseball builds character. I think it reveals it,” said Coach Jara. “When you’re against the wall and everything’s going wrong – what type of person are you? How are you going to come back from your struggles? If you can learn the lessons here, you’ll be a better person out there.”
Similarly, Patriot High’s baseball team struggled with a starting lineup of young players, but Otis Williams is proud of his athletes’ grit. “I really enjoyed watching these guys fight to the very end,” said the head coach. “In a time period where failure is very scary, [baseball] allows the players to kind of embrace failure and not focus on the results as much as the process, and I think that's huge for the boys to take on.”
A strong camaraderie among players helped the team endure losses and improve their gameplay, resulting in more wins than last season. “I think this team’s special because our chemistry is good,” said Anthony Carvajal, senior and team captain. “We all have fun out here."
Strong bonds are also what propelled Rubidoux High’s softball team through their season. “Coming back from the pandemic, it was hard to rebuild a lot of sports,” said Ariana Hammock, senior and team co-captain. “I was in other sports as well, so I’d seen the process beforehand, and coming out here just felt way [easier] to bond with [the girls].”
This year, the team had only three seniors and the majority of players were completely new to the sport. “I know it was hard for a lot of girls to come out of their comfort zone and become something they’re not,” said Ariana. “Seeing them become better people for themselves [was] really nice.”
“People their parents wouldn’t expect, either,” added Arlene Arredondo, junior and co-captain. According to Arlene, one player’s mother was shocked to see her daughter, who had no prior experience with softball, hit the ball as far as she did. Just before the end of the season, Arlene hit the team’s first home run. Moments like these outweigh challenges.
“[Softball] is hard to learn,” acknowledged Alicia Jones, head coach. “But coming together as a team, I think we overcame it all.”
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