By John Philip Wyllie
At the start of the current high school softball season, Bonita Vista High School was ranked tenth in the county. Since that time, the Barons have simply been winning, and winning, and winning. Now 23-0, the Barons have not only risen to become the county’s number one team, they are also ranked number one nationally. Two of the players behind this dramatic rise are Mexican-American stars Monica Hanono and Andrea Pino.
“Monica, our second base-man, is a tremendous infielder and bats second in our lineup,” explained Baron coach Lance Christensen. “She can slap, she can bunt and she can hit the ball for power plus she’s a team captain. She’s very, very reliable. You can count on her to get the job done.”
“Andrea is our lead off hitter and right fielder,” Christensen continued. “She is the fastest player on our team. She has, I believe, twelve stolen bases and hasn’t been caught once. If I get her on base, she is almost a guaranteed steal. Defensively, in right field, she has been outstanding. In our game against Hilltop, Andrea came up hard on the ball twice and threw their runners out at first base. Like Monica, she has been a big part of our offense and our defense.”
With only five games left in the regular season, the Barons are on course to rewrite the county record book. Based on their previous meetings with the teams they have left on their schedule, it seems likely that the team will emerge from the regular season undefeated. To complete what would be an exceptionally rare perfect season, the Barons will have to battle the county’s best teams in the CIF SD Section Division I Tournament.
Despite their national ranking and all the hype that goes with it, the Barons are not taking anybody lightly.
“The North County teams are all just as powerful as we are,” Hanono said. “We played some close games with La Costa Canyon, Torrey Pines and Rancho Bernardo. “The only thing that I think will really beat us though, is ourselves. If we are not there when we play (mentally) or our minds are somewhere else (we’ll be in trouble). We have to keep our minds focused. If we do that, I think we will be very successful in the tournament.”
The Barons frequently reach double figures when their runs are tallied up. Their overall defense has been even more impressive. Now approaching the all-time county record for shutouts in a season (22) and with a perfect game to their credit, the Barons can be brutal on their opponent’s batting averages.
“We’ve been growing as a team since we were freshman, so we always knew we were going to have a strong senior year,” said Pino. “It’s exciting though that we have done as well as we have. We just hope we can pull it off in the CIF (playoffs).” If they do, the 2002 Baron softball team will be the first in the school’s history to capture a coveted CIF championship.