By John Philip Wyllie
Even though her Eastlake Titans won the Mesa League softball title a year ago, second baseman and pitcher Monica Guerra was not enthusiastic earlier this year about returning for her final year of Titan softball. Disagreements with last year’s coaching staff and a string of injuries including a broken ankle suggested that maybe it was time for her to hang up her cleats. Energized by an enthusiastic young coach (Aida Esquer) and a new coaching staff and relatively injury-free, Guerra has her competitive juices flowing once again.
“I have definitely had my share of getting hurt during the last four years. Last year wasn’t too good. I also had problems with the coaching staff,” Guerra explained. Returning to the field last season after recovering from a broken ankle, she never felt 100%. “This year has definitely been different. We have a new coaching staff and a totally new team. It has been a really big plus for me. All of my worries go away when I am on the softball field,” Guerra added. “It has been outstanding.”
“Monica is a very strong player and she plays with her heart. She’s highly motivated and gutsy and she has the ability to get the team going by making the big play. From what I have heard she hasn’t been given the chance that she deserves, but we have been able to see what she has and what she can do. She is both a strong second baseman and a solid, consistent hitter.”
Guerra literally grew up on the softball field.
“My grandfather was the president of the Lucky Waller Softball League in the South Bay when I was little and I started playing tee-ball when I was five,” she recalled. Growing up, she dabbled in field hockey for a while, but softball has always been her true love. Guerra plans to make this her final season of softball. She thinks it has the potential to be a good one.
“I think this team has the potential to go far as long as we focus. Right now we are still trying to put the chemistry together, but we have only been playing together for three weeks.”
Eastlake will face a strong challenge this year from Hilltop and Bonita Vista High, but Guerra believes her Titans will prevail. Defense may prove to be the difference.
“We still need to improve our batting, but I think we are a solid defensive team. Our defense is definitely a plus. My strength is fielding and my weakness right now at least, is hitting because I injured my hand. There are a lot of things that I need to work on, but batting is the main one,” Guerra said.
Once she graduates in June, she will leave softball behind and begin focusing on the next chapter in her life: college.
“I don’t plan to play in college. I just want to hurry up and get my degree and then move on with life. I have already been accepted at Abilene Christian (in Texas) and I want to pursue communications, public relations or mass media.”
Before she turns her attention toward that however, there is a league title up for grabs and then potentially the CIF competition. She knows she can’t go back and undo the frustration she faced prior to this year, but Guerra can play an important role this season.
“I just want to go out with a bang,” she said.