Archive | May, 2013

Pursuing a passion with faith and determination

Posted on 25 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Christina Ledesma
La Habra Journal

KristinBryat_1La Habra author Kristin Bryant opened the door to her home where she lives with her husband Kurt and their two sons Jake, 5, and Kaden, 2. Wearing a smile with her new buzz-cut hair, like any normal day she was home with Kaden playing in the living room with trucks, colorful blocks and the iPad her mother gave her to keep her occupied during her four-hour chemotherapy treatments.

Bryant is what most will call a “supermom.” She is a stay-at-home mom, high school teacher and her first novel “The Others” will be published in August.

Bryant, who received her undergraduate degree from Bringham Young University and her master’s degree in education from Cal State University, Fullerton, has been teaching high school online courses in AP psychology and anthropology for the past five years.

“It is nice to have that creative outlet of teaching. It’s always nice to be able to be a stay at home mom but still do what you went to school to do,” she said. “You know if you invest six years of post high school education into something it’s nice to be able to use it. I have a creative outlet that way and enjoy working with students who for whatever reason are not served by their local public schools.”

Bryant wasn’t always interested in creative writing, but she felt from being a stay-at-home mom that there was an element of creativity missing from her life.

She tried a few different creative outlets like cake decorating classes with her sister-in-law. However, something hit her one day while she was folding her laundry.

“I had an idea come to me and I thought ‘well that would maybe be interesting’ and I talked to my parent’s about it and they said ‘ah that would be interesting you should write a book about it,” Bryant explained. So she did.

Bryant’s novel is a science fiction story with a Christian religious twist.
“It’s about another world coming to earth to find evidence of their savior because he lived here and not there,” Bryant said.

Bryant wrote the story geared at young teens. As an educator, Bryant said that she has seen the quality of writing decreased and she wishes that more teens would read. The influence to write her novel was also to create a story that had appropriate content for teenagers.

Bryant said that she has read many books about pop teen culture because of the age group that she teaches. She found that some of the books had inappropriate content and did not hold up to her standards of what she thinks teenagers should be reading. Bryant decided to give it a try and started to write her novel.

“Why not try and put my effort into something,” she said.

At the time Bryant only had her first son and she found time to write at night when he was sleeping and while her husband was going to school.

“I found it was something that I really enjoyed doing. It was again that outlet for creativity or just a way to stretch myself” she said. “It is nice to do something that stretches yourself as a person when you got little kids at home. I just decided to go for it. And it kind of spiraled from there.”

Bryant got most of her ideas for her novel while walking with her son and dog in La Habra Heights. Bryant said that before she had an iPhone; she would take a pen, sticky notes and her iPod with her and listened to music that made her think about the characters that she was writing about. She would have her dog lassoed on to the stroller, with her son inside and would stop on the side of the road to write down her ideas.

Kristin Bryant_2“Now I just take my iPhone. The houses are so beautiful and there are gorgeous trails,” Bryant said. “It was nice to kind of get out of suburbia for a second and walk those gorgeous homes. When I walk up there all I think about is my book or where I had different inspirations for different characters. I’m grateful for La Habra Heights for just having those open spaces and those winding roads. It’s kind of like being out in the country and its two minutes away.”

It took Bryant a year to write her novel. She then started sending it out to different publishers, but received a lot of rejection notices. So she decided to rewrite the story, which took her another year.

She then spent a third year looking for the right publisher and redefined who her audience was.

Finally she found a publisher who was interested in her work. “I looked for the ones who were interested in my story,” Bryant said.

Bryant listed all the songs and artist’s that she listened to while writing her book on her website. She pays tribute to all the artist’s who helped her develop her characters. Bryant said that there were many lessons that she learned along the way. During her writing process she joined mom’s writing groups, wrote on her blog and read publisher’s blogs for helpful tips.

“It’s been a growing experience. It kind of carried me through a lot of things not just the diagnosis. You know all sorts of things; something to be proud of, something to define me as a person outside of being a mom, a wife and a worker. It’s something completely different” said Bryant.

Shortly after Bryant found a publisher for her novel, her life took a different direction when she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer.

Bryant’s first thought was one of acceptance and gratitude that it was her.

“I’m so grateful that it’s not one of my kids, I’m so grateful that it’s not my husband because he’s got to work,” she explained. “I am perfectly set up to go through this. I work from home, I have my mother-in-law right there, my mom lives close enough, I have great friends, and multiple sister-in-laws living in La Habra, my church is so supportive they bring in meals. There is no one better set up for it. And I have a great prognosis so how can you be anything but completely grateful for what you have.”

Bryant discovered the lump when she did her own self breast examination. She said she knew that it was time to check.
“I had a feeling that something was wrong and I felt very prompted to go looking for something.”

Bryant’s cancer was quick growing and very aggressive. Her doctor told her that if she would have found the lump in her breast a few months later the cancer would have spread. Bryant said that she is very grateful because it could have been worse.

“I’m only 32, that’s really young for something like this. But it does speak to how important it is for every woman to be really vigilant looking for something like this. It had nothing to do with genetics or anything it was kind of bad luck,” she said.

Bryant will continue to have six rounds of chemo in four in half months. After her chemo treatment she will have radiation five times a week for five weeks and hopes to be done with the treatment by October, and finished with her chest reconstruction by the New Year.

Bryant will be finished with her chemo treatment in August, her book will also be out that month and she will be celebrating her tenth anniversary with her husband all in the same month.

Bryant explained that with everything that she is going through during her treatment it’s nice to have her novel as a positive distraction.

“I’m so excited that I have it because now it gives me something to look forward to. Through all of this other stuff it gives me something exciting that I get to look towards through all the chemo, and through the hair loss, and through the surgery.”

While battling breast cancer Bryant said what has carried her through is her positive attitude and faith. Having a positive attitude and being devoted to her faith has had a huge impact on Bryant’s recovery.

“You can’t under estimate the power of positive thinking. You can’t. I think my body has responded much better because I haven’t given myself the chance to even go to the what if. You have to be really positive and the most important thing is that you have to find your faith, whatever that means for that person.”

In the future, Bryant plans on writing a sequel to her novel once her battle with cancer is over and her first novel is received well and sells. She would also like to make her writing career her primary job.

Through this experience, Bryant has learned that dreams do come true and goals can be met if you work really hard for them. And she treats her diagnosis the same way and continues to work hard and push through.

“Walking away from this, I just want people to know how doable getting through both the diagnosis and writing are. It calls for the right attitude and a little hard work,” she explained with a smile.

“Thomas Edison has a really good quote its ‘Opportunities are missed by most people because it’s usually dressed in overalls and looks like work’ and I love that because I feel like so many people miss opportunities because it just seems too difficult,” she adds. “But if I can do something like this it’s doable for anybody.”

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Honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted on 25 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

Crosses__4c_insideIt started out as a way to honor the fallen veterans and has become somewhat of a duty for Chuck Morse.

His “Gathering of the Crosses” has been displayed on the lawn of his La Habra home on Memorial Day for the last eight years. The presentation of the crosses is a tribute to the Orange County veterans who have fallen while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two more crosses were added just this year, bringing the total to 74 crosses
Morse, along with Mike Cruth, a handyman and friend who lives in Whittier, created the 22-inch crosses by hand. They are painted white and prepared for placement in the yard.

Morse researches the details of the individuals including what city in Orange County they are from, their branch of the military, where and when they were serving when they killed and get a photo.

Morse says he continues to do this because “nobody else is doing it.” And he wants to ensure that people are aware of the sacrifices made by Orange County’s young men and women.

Over the years Morse has had hundreds of people come by his home to see the crosses. It still moves him when parents and family members of those who have fallen come to see the tribute.

“They come up and thank me for doing this and often ask if they can have the cross,” Morse explained. “I say, ‘Sure,’ and hand it to them. I can always make another one.”
Motivated by that, More is currently working with the Orange County Register to locate the various families so that he might send them all a cross.

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Imperial Middle School students earn academic honors

Posted on 25 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

Pentathalon_1Imperial Middle School seventh and eighth grade students went to this year’s academic pentathlon competition and left with 109 medals, one of the top performances ever for the school.

The seventh grade Imperial Knights team took home the first place overall title in Division 2, where they competed against nine other schools.

The seventh grade Imperial Nobles followed suite and took home second place overall in Division 2.

The eighth grade Imperial Knights team claimed an impressive third place overall in Division 1.

“I am proud of all my teams. They work hard all year long and winning medals is their reward,” said Brenda Gomez, Imperial teacher and team coach.

Academic Pentathlon allows them to apply integrity and sportsmanship in team and individual exams.

The annual Academic Pentathlon is a five-event competition for sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

The program encourages and rewards academic excellence among students of all ability levels.

“Pentathlon is important to me because it gives me a chance to thrive outside of the classroom,” said Brandon Ryan, a pentathlete who took home a fifth-place overall medal.
Ryan’s mother Megan added, “Pentathlon is important because it gives Brandon a chance to be challenged in something off the ball field, out of the classroom… and compete in something out of the ordinary. It’s been a pure blessing to see these minds challenged.”
Students in public and private schools compete as individuals and team members in a series of five academic tests, including: math, literature, social science, science, and essay.

Participants research and study the content outlined in the Academic Pentathlon Study Guide published annually.

The Pentathlon’s curriculum is aligned with California state content standards. The program culminates with an awards ceremony. The top scoring teams and individual students are awarded medals and plaques for highest scores.

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Raiders knocked out of playoffs by San Dimas

Posted on 25 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

SAN DIMAS – It was just a day where nothing went the way of the Sonora baseball team in a 19-5 loss to San Dimas in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, Friday afternoon at San Dimas High.

SHS_BGHS Baseball__009Aided by a couple errors, the Saints (26-6) put up 12 runs on 11 hits in the third inning alone and chased Raiders starting pitcher JP Sarro after just two-and-one-third innings of work. San Dimas led 14-2 after three innings.

“Today just wasn’t our day,” said Pat Tellers, Sonora head coach. “That happened to be the worst inning we had all year and we tell these guys that in the playoffs you have to be flawless. It just caved in on us and once you give up that many it’s hard to come back.”

In that third inning, the first six Saints reached base safely. In the fifth inning, San Dimas saw its first five batters reach base safely en route to putting up its final five runs.

With the 12-run lead, Jimmy Lambert (13-1) cruised through five innings of work, allowing five runs, on 10 hits while striking out four batters.

AJ Oviedo led the Raiders with three hits and scored three runs, two on singles by Brandon Chandler.

“In the second spot, my main job is to try to advance the guy in front of me,” Oviedo said. “But we just needed to get on base and let our big guns, [Andrew] Piraino and Chandler, do their job.”

It wasn’t a bad day for the top four batters in the order, which went a combined 8-for-13 and scored four of the Raiders five runs on the afternoon.

But the hits came from all nine spots in the order for San Dimas, which ended up matching its run total with 19 hits.

Ricky Ramirez led the way for the Saints with three hits and four RBI, while Josh Avila added two hits and drove in four runs.

Logan Murratalla also collected three hits and drove in three runs.

Despite the final result, Sonora appeared poised to stay in step with San Dimas through the first two innings.

With one out in the first inning, San Dimas center fielder Elias Orona misplayed a line drive by Andrew Piraino, which allowed Oviedo to score from first base for a 1-0 lead.

Then in the top of the third inning, down by one run, Chandler knocked in Oviedo with a two-out base hit to tie the score at 2-2.

“We knew Lambert was going to be around the plate, he throws a lot of strikes and likes to jump ahead,” Tellers said. “Through the first five at bats, I thought our guys saw the ball really well, so I thought things could get interesting, but we still needed to play defense. We started making mistakes right away though and you need to make plays this deep in the playoffs.”

The wheels fell off for Sonora in the third inning. San Dimas sent 17 batters to the plate, scoring 12 runs on 11 hits with the help of three Raider errors. After the dust settled, the Saints were up 14-2.

“When you get this deep in the playoffs, as our coaches say, you need to play good defense and today we didn’t do that,” Oviedo said. “We had a lot of mental mistakes on plays we’ve made all season, we just didn’t have it today.”

A pair of spectacular defensive plays by shortstop Gavin Blodgett and third baseman Henry Bustamante kept San Dimas quiet in the fourth inning.

Sonora scored its final three runs in the fifth inning on a wild pitch and back-to-back RBI singles by Chandler and Gavin Blodgett.

Sarro (9-2) took the loss, giving up 12 total runs (three earned runs) on 10 hits.

“The guys didn’t die, we were happy with the fact that they fought,” Tellers said. “We got a few more runs to try to make it respectable, but San Dimas is a heck of a club with the way they swung the bat.”

San Dimas moves on to the semifinals to take on No. 1 Oaks Christian.

Sonora’s season ends at 23-7, which fulfills Tellers’ goal of accomplishing a 20-win season, but leaves the Raiders two games short of their ultimate goal of a CIF Championship.

“We had a great season and won a league title,” Oviedo said. “You never want to go out, you want to win a CIF title, but only one team can do that. We ran into a great team, everything they hit fell and I know they’ll challenge Oaks Christian. They have a good shot.”

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Rancho Starbuck students show their hearts to students on East Coast

Posted on 24 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Maritza Galvan
La Habra Journal

Heart to Heart Project Students-1The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut back in December was horrible news for many people across the country. The staff and students of Rancho-Starbuck Intermediate School were extremely affected by the news and decided to do something for Sandy Hook.

The Heart-To-Heart project was created by Rancho-Starbuck’s very own art teacher Melanie Artz. She came up with the idea of making and selling ceramic hearts. They were sold between $2 and $4 dollars. These ceramic hearts were sold to as many people who wanted to take part in this. Aside from this being a project at Rancho-Starbuck, it began to spread throughout the community and school district.

“Heart-To-Heart, which means from our hearts to your hearts”, said Superintendent Patricia Howell. She emphasized that the purpose of this project was to do something good for the school.

The sale of ceramic hearts started in late January and ended on the first week of March. After the sale, students and staff made the decision to create more hearts but this time they would be for the Sandy Hook Elementary staff.

The project was a huge success. The ceramic hearts were seen worn everywhere around the city. People who heard about the project wanted to contribute and participate. This charity project collected a total of $3,396.25 and was sent to Sandy Hook Elementary along with the ceramic hearts for each staff member on May 8.

The main goal for this project was to show appreciation for the children and the school staff. Those that contributed wanted the children, parents and staff of Sandy Hook to know that they are cared for by many people across the country. The Heart-To-Heart project proved that even in a very unfortunate event there can still be a ray of light and that people will always come together in a time of need.

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Community cruises, rallies against Juvenile Diabetes

Posted on 24 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Sarah Negrete
La Habra Journal

Hundreds of people came out to support the “Cruisin for a Cause” car show last Sunday, to raise and donate funds to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. This 4th annual car show was hosted and organized by La Habra’s Collins Trim Shop as well as the newly found group, Love For a Cure, whose mission is to bring local awareness of Type 1 Diabetes, as well as striving to find its cure.

Cruisn_1Held in the large parking lot of Sonora High School, over 10 clothing and food vendors and many classic cars and trucks sat on display from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There were live performing bands entertaining the crowds, raffle tickets sold for $5 each or $20 for five tickets to win prizes donated by Love For a Cure.

All registered car owners at the “Cruisin for a Cause” car show donated $25 and received lunch, a chance to be judged in over 30 award winning categories and many other smaller prizes like trophies, plaques, shirts and goody bags.

Roy Redman and his 1966 Mustang received the “Host Favorite” award. Redman enjoyed the car show, and was glad to be part of a good cause.

“This was my first car show ever,” Redman explained. “I am pretty pleased with how the car show was put together, and I’m glad I contributed to the fight for the cure of diabetes. Unfortunately my wife’s cousin passed from living with Diabetes, so knowing I participated in an event like this is great.”

Event host Liz Steves was pleased with the outcome of the car show and appreciated all the familiar and unfamiliar faces in the crowds.

Cruisn_3“Although the car show was slightly smaller this year than it was last year, we had over 30 new participants who fully embraced our efforts to find a cure and bring awareness to Type 1 Diabetes,” Steves said. “We raised about $4,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and hope to raise even more funds next year at the next car show supporting this cause.”

Collins Trim Shop will host another car show supporting Sonora and La Habra High Schools’ Future Farmers of America and will hold a large auctions for animals and prizes on June 8.

Cruisn_4For more information and how to get involved in the fight for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, visit For future events organized by Collins Trim Shop in the La Habra community, visit

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Lady Highlanders edge out Peninsula, advance to CIF semifinals

Posted on 24 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

LHHS_Softball_ROLLING HILLS ESTATES—Despite being in a higher division, the results for the La Habra softball team remain the same as it advances to the CIF-SS Division 3 semifinals after a 1-0 road victory over Palos Verdes Peninsula, Thursday afternoon.

Adjustments were key for La Habra offensively, as evidenced by Amanda Akles, who figured out Peninsula starting pitcher Cassie Lajeunesse and hit a leadoff solo home run in the top of the seventh inning.

“I knew we needed one run going into that at-bat and I just wanted to get on with a base hit,” Akles said. “Off the bat I knew it was gone, after rounding first base and seeing the ball go over, it was an amazing feeling. I knew the circle was handled for the final three outs.”

One run was enough for starting pitcher Vanessa Ciocatto (20-7), who pitched a complete game shutout, allowing five hits while striking out 12 batters without allowing a walk.

The senior was dominant in the circle and kept Peninsula off balance using four different pitches and working both inside and outside. The strikeout total was two off of her season best.

“Going into every CIF game, I keep telling myself it’s not going to be my last,” Ciocatto said. “They were free-swinging at a lot of stuff, so I was really moving it outside and inside, sometimes I threw my off-speed to keep them from getting good contact.”

Lajeunesse (14-5) matched Ciocatto through six innings, utilizing the outside part of the plate to La Habra’s all right-handed lineup.

Peninsula (18-11) put Ciocatto in a jam in the second inning when Kristyne Hong and Camille Zuliani hit consecutive base hits with one out. Katie Holcomb followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners.

However, Megan Kelly-slatten lined out to Hope Moreno at second base to end the threat.

Both teams had chances in the third inning, starting with La Habra, which had runners on first and second bases with no one out.

However, Nicole DeMille popped out on a bunt attempt, Frankie Mendoza flied out to left and Camille Manzo struck out to end the threat.

In the bottom half, Peninsula leadoff hitter Brooke Vines reached second base with one out, but Ciocatto responded by striking out the next two batters to end that threat.

“They put together a couple hits and I knew I had to get out of it,” Ciocatto said. “I had to keep us in the game because we were both throwing well and all we needed was one run.”

Frank McCarroll had an additional assessment of Ciocatto, who picked up her 20th victory of the season.

“She’s been outstanding all season long,” he said. “She’s been the ultimate senior leader on and off the field and I couldn’t ask for more.”

Both pitchers took over from there, matching each other until Akles’ home run in the seventh inning.

Ciocatto retired 14 consecutive batters after a leadoff single in the third inning. She retired 15 of the last 16 she faced.

“We hit the ball hard and [Peninsula] played great defense, they took some hits away from us,” McCarroll said. “We knew we would keep putting the bat on the ball and at some point, one of our girls would make a difference. We didn’t make mistakes on defense and we got the run we needed, but they’re a great team.”

Lajeunesse pitched a complete game, allowing one run on three hits while striking out seven batters and walking one.

Vines finished 2-for-3 with two singles.

La Habra (23-8) will move on to the semifinals for the second consecutive season. The Lady Highlanders will host fourth-seeded Righetti, Tuesday afternoon.

“I don’t think the division makes a difference for us,” Ciocatto said. “I believe in our team, we’ll step up to anyone’s level, whether it’s the No. 1 team in the state or the last place team.”

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Take the time to remember the holiday

Posted on 23 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

It is that time of year again. Time to prepare for summer. Time to get ready for hot days, swimsuits, vacations, barbecues and baseball. Before any of that happens, it’s also time to take a moment to pay our respects and honor those who gave their lives in order to protect and defend our country. Memorial Day was set up for Americans to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

Before we focus our attention on summer, it’s time to take a moment to consider those who served and died. If you think about it, all generations of Americans have been touched by war. The United States was founded by a war of revolution against an oppressive European power. So it stands to reason that we should take the day to recognize these individuals.

If you have not been directly impacted by the sacrifice of a loved one in the military, you can feel free to connect with those in our community who over the years have died in combat. Their names are emblazoned on the plaque outside the library (see Did You Know column). Feel free to take a look and remember.

If you think back and consider all those who have died while answering the call of duty. After the Revolution, there was a second war with England. Then there was the war with Mexico, were many US military members died in an effort to gain the land for our country where you are currently reading this article. Then came the war with ourselves where many Americans died to help keep the country together and move toward human rights.

Then the short war with Spain and then the Philippines, that expanded our territories and asserted our strength among traditional European powers. There was World War I, or “The Great War,” where American involvement turned the tide and helped bring an end to the fighting. The American support and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation and the years of World War II, where had it not been for the sacrifice of American service men, the world would be a vastly different looking place today.

The conflict in Korea that helped stem the growth of Communism and where tensions still continue today. The struggles in Vietnam to help hold on to democracy against an enemy that was often invisible. American service men are still feeling the sacrifice. The visit to La Habra by The Wall that Heals (see story Page 1), will help continue with that recovery.

The skirmishes in Panama and Grenada where once again Soldiers, Sailors , Airman and Marines were put in harms way in duty to our country.

Then the Gulf War and the more recent Iraqi Freedom and operations in Afghanistan, where conflicts continue today and servicemen still risk their lives for the US.

No matter what your stance is on war (past, present or future), or your political views, Memorial Day is a time were we, Americans, take the time to acknowledge what other Americans did for us so that we may live in this great country.

It truly is a time to consider Winston Churchill’s words when he said “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”

Take the time this weekend before your vacations and thank those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom.

Have an enjoyable Memorial Day!

—The Editor

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Vanessa Ciocatto: a force for the Lady Highlanders

Posted on 23 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

For the La Habra softball team, Vanessa Ciocatto is a shining example of how hard work and dedication can pay off.

Vanessa Ciocatto  pitches for the highlanders.  Ciocatto pitched a complete game striking out five and walking one against Arcadia.

Vanessa Ciocatto pitches for the highlanders. Ciocatto pitched a complete game striking out five and walking one against Arcadia.

Because of her strong performances in the pitching circle this season, and some offensive help from her teammates, the Lady Highlanders are poised to make another deep postseason run.

One of those strong outings was against Arcadia last Thursday in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs, a game in which Vanessa went the distance and struck out eight batters in a 5-1 victory.

“I want to go further than last year, so I knew I had to bring my A game,” she said. “I knew I had to come prepared and not underestimate [Arcadia] because it was a wild-card team.”

The senior has been a crucial part of the Lady Highlanders program even during her freshman season, but her role increased starting during her sophomore year, when she had to fill in for then-senior Kayla Klein, who started the season with an injury.

This year, she’s stronger than ever and though she has a few less wins than during her junior season, head coach Frank McCarroll says she’s pitching better this season.

“She hasn’t quite had the run support that she had last year, which has made her role bigger,” McCarroll said. “Every game we play, she gives us a chance to win and will continue to do so, but her leadership, she’s really stepped into the role of being a captain. Being a senior, it’s her year, her team and she’s looking to finish off a very strong high school career.”

However, the road to get to this point was not the easiest path for Vanessa, and it was during her freshman year that she felt she really started to hit her stride.

Before that season, she relied on her role models, her parents, who stuck with her and believed in her even when coaches told her she couldn’t be a pitcher.

“My parents have always stuck by me through everything, I went through a point when I was 13-14 where I wasn’t very good at pitching,” she said. “A lot of coaches told me I couldn’t be a pitcher, I got turned away from travel ball teams.”

But when she entered her freshman year, she said playing on junior varsity and pitching in every game was an integral part of her progress.

The other major part was her new pitching coach, Stacy Nelson.

“She was the turn around in my pitching career,” Vanessa said. “She pitched at Florida and on the Olympic team and worked with me on a new pitch, an off-speed curve which has helped me tremendously.”

While that hard work has helped her on the field, it’s also been recognized at the next level, as Vanessa signed with Delaware State last fall.

A familiar face, her catcher from her travel ball team, helped Vanessa feel more comfortable with her decision, as well as the fact that last year, Delaware State brought in nine freshmen from California. The early signing also gave her a chance to focus on performing her best during her senior season.

“I really wanted to lower my ERA this year and focus on locating my pitches well because once you get to the next level the hitters get better and the strike zone gets smaller,” she said.
Those extra efforts have been needed in a season in which the offensive numbers have been a bit down in comparison to last year’s playoff run.
Her determination has led to some big wins for the team this season, including a 3-1 victory on the road at Sunny Hills last month.

“Going into that game there was a lot of tension, we had to win,” she said. “That week I hardly got any sleep and I knew going into that game that it started with me, for both sides it started with pitching and I had to set a tone, especially with it being my senior year, I didn’t want to go out with a loss.”

That combination of hard work, dedication and determination has gotten Vanessa far in her high school career, but the senior is determined to accomplish one more goal before moving on to the next level.

The Lady Highlanders fell one game short of an appearance in the Division 4 championship game last season and to add another challenge to Vanessa’s already lengthy list of challenges, the team moved up to Division 3 this season.

But despite the potential increase in competition, she will look at this challenge like she has all the others.

“I use this analogy that the field doesn’t know who is going to win, it doesn’t care who you’re playing or what the front of the jersey says,” she said. “So I never underestimate anybody and I trust in my stuff and get it done.”

In addition to playing for a highly respected high school program, Vanessa also offers pitching lessons when she’s not in the classroom or on the field.

During her first semester this school year, she achieved a 4.0 GPA for the first time. She also enjoys the forensics program, though she doesn’t plan on going into that field in college. Instead, she plans on going into special education.

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Raiders overcome early mistakes to get past La Canada in CIF playoffs

Posted on 23 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal

SHS_BGHS Baseball__078The Sonora Raiders advanced to the third round of the CIF Baseball Playoffs, with an 8-5 victory over the La Canada High Spartans, Tuesday, at Sonora.

The Raiders struggled early with six errors, which accounted for four unearned runs. However, the Spartans added five errors of their own.

“When you play the way we did, especially in the playoffs, you don’t usually move on,” said Sonora manager, Pat Tellers, “We are glad to be moving on.”

Sonora (22-7, 14-1) was down 4-2 heading into the fifth inning with all the momentum in the Spartans favor.

At the end of the fourth, the Spartans had a 3-2 lead. Brandon Chandler hit a sacrifice fly to left, which brought in Brandon Mataisz to tie the game. However, the umpire said Mataisz left early, and he was called out and the run was taken off the board.
However, the Raiders changed the momentum quickly and put up six runs in the inning to take an 8-4 lead.

The inning started with Gavin Blodgett getting hit by a pitch. Henry Bustamante, the next batter, poked a double into the gap in right center field, which scored Blodgett all the way from first. Bustamante went 2-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBI.

“The past two games I have been swinging the bat really well,” Bustamante said. “I have just been trying to go opposite field more and both of my hits went there today.”

Brett Phillips came in to pinch run for Bustamante, who has been nursing a hamstring injury, and came around to score on a single by Jake Rosander.

With the game tied at 4-4, Mataisz came up with runners on second and third and one out.

He singled to left field to give the Raiders the lead, 5-4. The left fielder came up throwing home and Mataisz took second base on the throw. Mataisz also picked up the win after going three and two-thirds innings in relief.

“It felt really good to come through for the team today,” Mataisz said. “Especially because today could have possibly been my last game.”
AJ Oviedo then stepped up and poked a sacrifice fly to left field to score Josh Choice and give Sonora a 6-4 lead. The sacrifice fly would prove to be the game-winning hit.

Andrew Piraino then singled to drive in Mataisz, and then an error on the Spartan’s second baseman scored Ray Saucedo, who pinch ran for Piraino, and expanded the lead to 8-4.

Piraino was the starting pitcher in the game, but only went three innings, while giving up four unearned runs. He did not find out he was pitching until last night.

“Evan Sonny is in the hospital,” Tellers said. “He was supposed to pitch today, but he has some sort of bacterial infection. So, last night was kind of a quick decision.”

Mataisz came in and was very solid in relief, but found himself in a jam in the top of the seventh. He got the first two guys out, and then gave up three singles in a row, and one run.

Tellers called for JonPaul Sarro, who had never come out of the bullpen in a varsity game, to come in with the tying run at the plate.
Sarro only faced one batter and struck him out to pick up his first varsity save. Sarro was scheduled to pitch in the next round, and Tellers does not intend to change his plan.

“He will get the ball,” Tellers said. “That was a little bit of a tune-up there. I was very impressed with his velocity today.”
“I feel pretty good,” Sarro added. “I am just going to go out there and do what I did all year.”
The Raiders will travel to take on San Dimas on Friday.

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