Girls Softball Rankings: Glendora holding steady at No. 1, but finishes back-to-back against Ayala

Glendora gets beat: Ayala’s Jessica Hall pitched a one-hitter to defeat Glendora 8-0; setting up Thursday’s showdown at Ayala for the Sierra League title.

Read today’s player profile of South El Monte High School’s Reina Gaber. I enjoyed talking to her, she’s mature beyond her years and a great example of what a student-athlete should aspire to be.

Girls Softball top ten rankings
1. Glendora (18-2) – After climbing to No. 4 in Monday’s Div. III poll, the Tartans have their sights set on the Sierra League title, finishing with Ayala today and Thursday, needing to win either game to win the title outright. If they get swept, they finish in a tie, but Ayala wins the head-to-head and goes as No. 1 to the playoffs.
2. Los Altos (18-6) – They can wrap up the Miramonte with wins over Charter Oak and Wilson, the only thing stopping Los Altos is Los Altos themselves. But we think they have cured that problem.
3. Bonita (20-4-1) – They finish this season with Charter Oak then get re-energized for a playoff run. The Cats could be sleepers, they have done well in tournaments and they play with a hunger that wins close playoff games.
4. San Dimas (19-4) – The Saints are closing in on an undefeated run in the Valle Vista League, but still need to sharpen up for the playoffs.
5. South El Monte (16-6) – Can clinch the Mission Valley League outright with a victory over Arroyo. Of all the teams in our top ten, I really believe the Eagles have the best chance of winning a title in Division VI.
6. Sierra Vista (18-3) – What’s going on with girls sports at Sierra Vista? First the basketball team compiles a mighty impressive record, and now the softball team. I watched them last week and they’re for real. They have some very strong hitters 1-4. Definitely a sleeper to watch in the playoffs
7. Bishop Amat (14-12) – The Lancers will be at St. Paul in a key game to lock down at least third in the Del Rey and a playoff spot. If the Lancers lose, they will be tied for third with St. Paul, but the Lancers finish with Cantwell while St. Paul finishes with Bishop Montgmomery.
8. Northview (13-8) – Considering how much pitcher Hannah Fraijo meant to the Vikings last season, this was a great job of coaching to keep the Vikes in the top ten and in a fight for second in the VVL.
9. West Covina (13-9) – Winners of five straight, the Bulldogs get South Hills Wednesday and Friday with a chance to win the San Antonio title. Great year, great coaching job.
10. South Hills (13-8-1) – Real simple, they need to beat Nogales today, then sweep West Covina to win the San Antonio. Hey, it’s simple to write, not simple to do.

Today’s games
Del Rey League

Bishop Amat at St. Paul, 3:15 p.m.
Miramonte League
Los Altos at Charter Oak, 3:15 p.m.
Diamond Ranch at Wilson, 3:15 p.m.
Mission Valley League
South El Monte at Arroyo, 3:15 p.m.
Mountain View at Gabrielino, 3:15 p.m.
Montview League
Sierra Vista at La Puente, 3:15 p.m.
Gladstone at Bassett, 3:15 p.m.
Duarte at Workman, 3:15 p.m.
Sierra League
Ayala at Glendora, 3:30 p.m.
Diamond Bar at Chino Hills, 3:30 p.m.

Softball Standings and Schedules
Del Rey League
Miramonte League
Mission Valley League
Montview League
San Antonio League
Sierra League
Valle Vista League

SOUTH EL MONTE – There is nothing ordinary about South El Monte High School’s Reina Gaber.

In fact, she is so diverse that South El Monte softball coach Dean Bunting didn’t know who he could compare her with, and he has been at the school since it opened in 1992.

“You can’t compare her to anyone,” Bunting said. “When you sit back and think about it, she’s special, she’s unique.

“You wouldn’t say she’s the quickest of foot, or the most naturally gifted athlete, but she is there with the best athletes this school has ever had. She’s remarkable.”

Among other things, Gaber is a member of the band, played varsity soccer as a sophomore and varsity basketball as a junior.

She also has been on the varsity girls tennis team since she was a freshman, winning the Mission Valley League singles title last fall.

“I should have won it (singles title) my sophomore and junior year too, I just choked,” Gaber said, laughing.

Between jumping in and out of sports, Gaber is a workhorse in the classroom too, sporting an impressive 4.14 GPA that is still not quite up to her standards.

“I got C in Spanish once,” Gaber said. “It still bothers me.”

For most high school student-athletes, that would be an impressive resume, but it’s just salad dressing compared to what Gaber is accomplishing in softball, where she already has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Houston on an athletic scholarship after leading the area in just about every statistical category.

Gaber is hitting .638 with nine home runs,

10 doubles, three triples and 31 RBIs.

“She’s got a natural swing,” Bunting said. “She can take the outside pitch to the opposite field anytime she wants. Everyone has been trying to figure out what the out pitch is with her. There isn’t one, she can hit anything.”

Although Gaber will likely be an outfielder in college, she has consciously managed to sharpen her skills in the circle in order for the Eagles to be successful – another example of how selfless she is.

And she’s not bad, either.

Gaber is 14-4 with a 0.73 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 114 innings on an Eagles team that is closing in on the Mission Valley League title and ranked No. 4 in this week’s CIF-Southern Section Division VI poll.

“Reina is one of the hardest working and smartest girls I have ever been around,” Bunting said. “She is the first one out with the equipment, and the last person taking it in. She’s a shining example of everything you want. I don’t know if you can mold them much better than her.”

For Gaber, pitching is business as usual, understanding exactly what her abilities are and how to use them.

“What I don’t have in sheer force, I make up with in strategy,” Gaber explained. “I have played enough travel ball and listened to enough instruction to know how batters think and how to pitch to them. I’m always thinking one pitch ahead, and I know I’m not the most overpowering, but I have developed enough pitches to get batters out.”

Gaber prepared for this season knowing how much her team relied on her in the circle.

“It wasn’t as much physical preparation as it was mental preparation,” Gaber said. “I knew this year would be tougher because we graduated a couple key players.

“That meant I had to be extra careful in pitch selection, so I worked on hitting my spots. But against these travel ball hitters, they’re not used to a slower pitcher, it’s a tough adjustment sometimes. Not that I’m terribly slow, but I think my speed works to my advantage.”

Gaber’s work ethic has rubbed off on other players, too.

“It’s not what she says, it’s what she does,” Bunting said. “She’s an example of what you can accomplish through hard work.”

It’s something Gaber is conscious of as well.

“I don’t like to lecture, freshman and sophomores are still trying to find their way in the world,” Gaber said. “You help them out when you can, but more than anything, just do things right and hopefully they’re paying attention.”

Gaber plays travel ball for SoCal Wicked Limon, an 18-under gold team in La Habra. She is hoping her experience helps when the Division VI playoffs begin next week.

“We have a very good chance of winning it all,” Gaber said. “It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to take a lot of work. We’re not a team that can afford to slip up, we have to minimize our mistakes. But I like our chances.”

fred.robledo@sgvn.com

(626)962-8811, Ext. 2161

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