During the last week of January 2017, Beatriz Panduro was frantically running around the SCVi campus, pen and paper in hand.
Her goal: field a softball team.
“I was … just begging, ‘Please you’ll give it a chance, you’ll like it.’ There was only seven girls that wanted to play,” Panduro said.
“I went around the entire school asking and I got 14. I was so happy and my coach (was) just telling me, this year it’s not going to work because that’s not that many girls. I kept going. I was like, no there has to be a softball team.”
Her persistence was rewarded. Not only did she collect enough names to create a softball team, but the team was good.
The Stallions won their first league title, going 9-0 in Omega League play. After the season, which ended on May 17 in a loss to Flintridge Prep in the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 tournament, SCVi continued to impress. Ten players earned a spot on the All-Omega League list and coach Ken Erenberg was named Coach of the Year.
“I think after our first win, everyone was just like, ‘Wow, we can actually win,’” Panduro said. “This is a school that wasn’t used to winning as a whole.”
Panduro, Aleena Valenzuela and Kylie Martinez each earned MVP honors.
Martinez made the transition from first baseman to pitcher shortly after the season began. The junior ended the season with a 3.07 ERA and 37 strikeouts.
“I didn’t want to pitch,” Martinez said. “I didn’t feel that I could be a good pitcher, but I knew that it was something I had to do for my team and to help them get where they need to go.”
Valenzuela, a freshman, was returning to the diamond after a two-year softball hiatus due to injury. With a focus on improving her batting speed, Valenzuela worked her way to a .829 batting average. She led the team in terms of RBIs with 41 and hits with 29 and tacked on eight home runs.
“I started to miss it,” Valenzuela said of why she returned to softball. “Seeing a lot of girls my age playing that I used to play, it (made me miss it). It really did. I wasn’t so rusty … it felt like I didn’t really take that break.”
Panduro, who was the league MVP while playing for Albert Einstein Academy last year, logged a team-high 44 RBIs and had a .667 batting average to go with six home runs.
Emily Bradford, Dianna Cardoza, Alina Garcia, Kiara Gallegos and Maddy Sands each were named to the All-Omega League First Team. Alexa Leal and Yareli Cervantes both received Second Team nods.
Panduro transferred to SCVi from Einstein, while Martinez came from Fillmore. Valenzuela is the only player out of the three MVPs to have previously gone to SCVi. Erenberg came to SCVi from Einstein as well.
In addition to a potpourri of players, the Stallions roster featured many girls who had never picked up a softball bat before.
“The three MVPs that were named, we took responsibility of helping the girls and trying to help them be leaders with our school we wanted to give them positivity and help them to feel that even though they haven’t played before, they’re still part of this team,” Martinez said.
Now, instead of Panduro hunting down potential players, girls are approaching her wanting to know when practices for next season begin.
“It just felt good because a good softball team is looked highly upon,” Panduro said. “Next year is my last year with him and I do want to leave and know that there’s still going to be a team there because this is our first time ever winning a league championship. So maybe it’s the start of a little legacy there.”