All-Area Softball: Glendora’s Dana Waldusky earns Tribune player of the year; South El Monte’s Dean Bunting named coach of the year

Here it is, more prestigious than All-League, tougher to crack than All-CIF, it’s the infamous, non-political Tribune All-Area softball team, which represents the top 23-players in the East San Gabriel Valley for the 2009 season.

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Player of the year: Dana Waldusky, Glendora, Sr.
Coach of the year: Dean Bunting, South El Monte
First team
Pitcher: Diana-lynn Patterson, Los Altos, Sr.
Pitcher: Reina Gaber, South El Monte, Sr.
Catcher: Kelly Nolan, Glendora, Sr.
Infielder: Courtney Gano, Los Altos, So.
Infielder: Brittney Flores, Sierra Vista, Sr
Infielder: Stephany LaRosa, Diamond Bar, So.
Infielder: Gipsy Ramirez, San Dimas, Sr.
Outfielder: Ariel Shore, San Dimas, Sr.
Outfielder: Brandi Andrews, Glendora, Sr.
Outfielder: Breeanna Sandoval, Bonita, Jr.
Utility: Ariel Whiteman, Bishop Amat, Sr.

Second team
Pitcher: Chloe Wurst, Bonita, Jr.
Pitcher: Kortnie Clark, San Dimas, Jr.
Catcher: Heather Harrison, Northview, Sr.
Infielder: Shelby Dopps, San Dimas, Sr.
Infielder: Latisha Dedeaux, Los Altos, Sr.
Infielder: Britney Rodriguez, South Hills, Fr.
Infielder: Vanessa Bracamonte, Wilson, Jr
Outfielder: Amber Bachman, Bonita, Sr.
Outfielder: Asha Prithviraj, Diamond Bar, Sr.
Outfielder: Lauren Salgado, Bishop Amat, Sr.
Utility: Laura Banuelos, Rowland, So.

Waldusky player of the year story
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
GLENDORA – One of Glendora High School pitcher Dana Waldusky’s best moments came during her most difficult hour.

Not everyone reaches the mountaintop, but she came as close as you could. Not once, but twice.

The Tartans softball team fell in the CIF-Southern Section Division III championship game to Tesoro, 4-0, just a year after losing the Division II championship to El Dorado.

In the moments after losing the title for the second consecutive season, Waldusky showed her character and took responsibility by handling postgame questions with class and maturity beyond her years.

She didn’t make excuses or throw anyone under the bus. She wanted all the blame to fall on her shoulders, even though she was the primary reason the Tartans were there in the first place.

“I just felt if you get most of the accolades when you win, you have to take the blame when you lose,” Waldusky said. “It’s still very frustrating that we couldn’t win after two tries. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

“But I can look back and reflect and be proud of what our team did. To reach the finals two years in a row is an accomplishment. Of course you want to win it, but we took it as far as you could.”

To put it all in perspective, before Glendora’s back-to-back appearances in title games, the school had never reached the quarterfinals in softball.

The Tartans also proved to be the area’s best team, beating Division V runner-up San Dimas, 8-0, in the championship of the Charter Oak tournament and advancing to the finals of the season-opening San Dimas tournament.

Waldusky also faced difficult opposition, going against Sierra League competition that advanced four teams (Glendora, Chino Hills, Ayala and Chino) to the Division III quarterfinals.

She finished 18-3 with a 0.82 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 136 innings.

“I worked harder than ever on my pitching,” Waldusky said. “I worked on my movement, spin and pitch calls.”

Or as Tartans coach Reese Mitchell put it, she became more of a pitcher than a thrower.

“A lot of girls throw hard,” Mitchell said. “Dana could always throw pretty hard, but she became a lot smarter and developed more pitches.

“When you face the competition she had to face day in and day out, you can’t just throw the ball over the plate with power. You have to learn how to get batters out and know your opponents’ tendencies. She became great at that, I never had to say much of anything to her.”

After being named to the Sierra League first team and earning CIF-SS Division III first-team honors, Waldusky also has been selected the San Gabriel Valley Tribune Player of the Year.

“She deserves it, she carried us, she led us, and she never let us stop believing we couldn’t get back to the championship game,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to get back there.

“Last year was our first time in history. You rarely get a second chance, and that’s a credit to Dana. From Day 1, she had a purpose. We didn’t talk about it much, but she had a purpose and it rubbed off on everyone.

“Because of her, our goals changed. Two years ago we were a team that hoped to get in the playoffs. Now we expect to compete for championships. That expectation changed from having a pitcher like Dana in the circle.”

Waldusky was at her best in the playoffs, beating Knight (2-1), blanking second-seed Oaks Christian (3-0) and beating Chino Hills (3-1), for the third time this season, in the semifinals.

Though she might not have a championship ring, she will leave Glendora as one of its most accomplished players, and one who put the school on the softball map.

“It’s definitely cool to know that I was part of the Glendora team that made history,” Waldusky said. “We had a great run. We won the league title last year and were fighting for it again the last week of the season.”

Waldusky’s next stop is UC Davis, where she will pitch for a school making the leap to Division I softball.

“It kind of feels like Glendora all over again,” Waldusky said. “Hopefully I can help build a tradition with them too.”

Bunting coach of the year story
SOUTH EL MONTE – South El Monte High School softball coach Dean Bunting knows all about the hard times, which has made these past four years even more special.

The longtime Eagles coach has been in charge since the school opened in 1992, and for many of those early years, it was a struggle just to reach the playoffs.

“We were always stuck behind Rosemead and Arroyo,” Bunting recalled of Mission Valley League games. “It’s not a lot of fun when you lose year after year after year.

“Even when we would get to the playoffs, we would get knocked out in the first round, and most times it wasn’t pretty. So, when things finally turned around, I think I had a greater appreciation of the accomplishment.”

And has it ever turned around.

The Eagles rode pitching ace and smooth-hitting Reina Gaber to the CIF-Southern Section Division VI semifinals for the first time in history, a year after reaching the quarterfinals for the first time.

Gaber, who batted .644 with 40 RBIs, 15 doubles and nine home runs, finished a career for the history books.

She is 10th all time in the CIF-SS for career RBIs with 124 and is third all time in doubles with 37.

But it wasn’t just Gaber. Jessica Hernandez and Jasmine Vargas both batted over .400 to help the Eagles win their fourth consecutive Mission Valley League title.

After losing Diana Payan and her .538 average and 20 RBIs last season to graduation, Bunting thought the Eagles’ three-time league championship streak was in jeopardy, and he surely didn’t think they would come within a game of reaching the CIF-SS finals.

“Diana was a tremendous shortstop. I thought not having that defensive presence and bat would be tough to replace,” Bunting said. “But Reina is Reina. She’s the best player I have ever been around, and the team rallied around her. They had a mission to win league again and compete for a CIF title. We came up a game short, but it was a memorable season, that’s for sure.”

After outscoring their first three playoff opponents 51-1, losing to La Salle, 3-2, in the semifinals was tough to stomach.

“We got on a roll, and to win a championship, you have to get hot when the playoffs start and we were hot,” Bunting said. “I was driving to work (recently) and got that empty feeling again. We were so close to a championship game, and you never know when you’re going to get that chance again.

“But looking back, it was a tremendous season. Reina had a great season, but it was a total team effort, and the most enjoyable I ever had at the school.”

For his efforts, Bunting has been selected the San Gabriel Valley Tribune’s Coach of the Year.

“It’s a great honor,” Bunting said. “But all the credit goes to the players. They worked hard, they showed tremendous heart.

“These four Mission Valley League titles are the only titles we have ever won. It’s not often you get a cycle of players and outstanding players like Diana and Reina to help you get over that hump. It was a great four years and this last one was the best. Hopefully we can continue taking steps forward because there is a new sense of pride when you talk about softball at South El Monte High School.”

Bunting said the victories that stand out the most are the 1-0 and 2-1 wins over rival Arroyo that locked up the Mission Valley League title.

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2161

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