La Habra’s Hope Moreno looks toward success on the next level
By Luke Wilson
La Habra Journal
Hope Moreno is one of the most dedicated softball players to have come through La Habra High School.
However, if you ask anyone who has seen her play, or better yet heard her, then you’ll know that she is undoubtedly one of the best leaders and communicators that the Lady Highlanders’ Field has ever seen.
When asked how she got to where she is now in the world of softball, she quickly answered, “Practice.”
Unlike most softball and baseball players, who talk about their regime of how to get better at the plate, Moreno gets the most excited about a different facet of the game.
“I could seriously take ground balls all day,” she explained.
That sort of attention to the tough and oft-ignored defensive side of the ball describes Hope in more ways than one.
To be a defensive specialist at second base and at the position fondly dubbed, “the Hot Corner,” is no simple task.
Another reason that she loves defense, is the communication involved with it. Here communication on the field is something she became known for at La Habra.
“I have to talk,” Moreno said. “People are like, ‘If you don’t talk, it’s kind of weird seeing you play.’”
That sort of on-field communication is something that you’ll hear coaches stress in every sport on a daily basis, but its importance is sometimes missed due to a greater attention to improving stats.
As a four-year varsity starter, and a two-year captain, Hope knows that the other girls listen and watch her, and when she’s as vocal as she is, it helps keep their unit even more cohesive.
“Being a leader to me is where I feel like you can always have the younger girls come to you,” she explained. “You’re always keeping people in the game, you’re talking constantly with everyone, making sure the team is together. It’s a hard job honestly.”
That ability to stand out in a game, and have her presence not only heard, but felt allowed her to get recruited by some of the nation’s top softball programs. However, not as quickly as Hope might have liked.
An unspoken part of the recruitment process from high school to college is that it is all about who you know, and playing for a top caliber school. Moreno explained that she had to work for the attention that she received.
“I didn’t get recruited until my junior year,” she explained. “A lot of people were getting recruited their freshman and sophomore years.”
The first school that managed to bring her in for a visit was Portland State.
“I saw them at a tournament in Vegas. I had never heard of them,” she admitted. “I talked to the coach, then she came out and saw me play. It all happened really quick.”
After visiting the campus, Hope said she fell in love with the Portland area campus. In January of her junior year she verbally committed to play there.
However, things took a different twist later that year. Hope received some startling news.
“I got a call in April, saying that the head coach and the assistant. coach are going to UTEP [the University of Texas at El Paso],” she said. “I was kind of scared.”
After receiving reassurances from the new coaches at each school that they still wanted her talents, Hope decided to give UTEP a visit.
West Texas is vastly different from the Pacific Northwest. In addition, UTEP played in a more competitive conference, so the level of play would be higher from day one.
She compared everything from schooling possibilities, to coaches, to campuses.
Her desire to study nursing was a large part of her decision on what school to attend. It also helps explain her desire to help others on and off the field.
After some consideration, her decision was very clear.
“Times ten,” she explained how much she loved UTEP. Not long after, she was officially a UTEP Miner.
What was it like for Moreno to sign after such an arduous process?
“It was a sigh of relief,” she said. “I was extremely excited. I was like, ‘Can I do it already? Can I tell them?’”
However, despite all the excitement of the decision, taking the next step and playing at a higher level at a place far from where she has spent 18 years of her life is a big step.
This will be Hope’s first time living away from La Habra. She explained that she knows that she will get a little homesick. Luckily, she will have plenty to keep her busy in El Paso.
Hope is looking forward to the new challenge and excited about playing with her new team mates.
With her dedication to the game and her drive to help others, there is no doubt that she will quickly become an integral part of UTEP team and help lead the Miners to success.