By John Philip Wyllie
It was probably fitting that Eastlake senior third baseman Alana Ford turned out to be one of the heroes of Tuesday’s championship clinching victory over archrival Bonita Vista. A first team All-Mesa League selection since her freshman year, Ford’s eighth inning triple drove in the winning run that cemented the 4-2 victory and preserved the Titans perfect 10-0 league record. Now having secured an uncontested league championship, the Titans will enter the CIF tournament which begins on Saturday with the momentum they were searching for.
“There is so much to say about Alana Ford,” said East-lake’s victorious first-year coach Aida Esquer. “She is just an unbelievable player. She is so strong, so committed and so determined. She is just a great all-around player. She’s a player that I have been glad to coach and one that I would have loved to play with. Alana has been a brick wall at third base and she has a great eye at the plate and been very consistent. Ford, one of the few local Hispanic athletes to win an athletic scholarship this season, set a new career CIF home run record with 31.
“This was the best win that we have ever had. I am so proud of everybody and proud to be a part of this team. This will be my best memory of high school,” said Ford, the Titan captain.
Throughout her four-year career, the rivalry with Barons has been an intense one. Tuesday’s meeting was no exception. The teams were deadlocked at 2-2 into the decisive eighth inning. At one point the Barons had bases loaded with no outs, but the Titan defense stiffened and closed out the inning unscathed.
“This rivalry has been around since Eastlake was built. This win was great because ever since my freshman year, we have split with them. As far as we know, this is the first year that we have ever beaten them twice,” Ford said.
Following her graduation next month, Ford will be headed to Oregon State University on a full ride.
“I’ve been signed as a third baseman, so I am looking forward to that. It is definitely a challenge being a student athlete, but I am hoping to pave the way for younger Hispanic girls.”
Ford, with a very respectable 3.4 G.P.A. wants to pursue a degree in education in order to one day become a teacher. Her experience as a captain and leader on this championship softball team will no doubt help.