By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
In terms of feel-good endings, it doesn’t get much better than this. Diamond Bar High School softball coach Rebecca Garcia-Uyemura’s father passed away on Sunday and his funeral was Thursday, but she returned Friday with her Brahmas softball team having an opportunity to finish in a tie for the Hacienda League title, almost unthinkable considering the Brahmas were 0-10 in the Sierra League last year and hadn’t sniffed the playoffs since 2006. Then there is Stephany La Rosa, the UCLA-bound shortstop who has been one of the Southland’s best since her freshman year, but on teams that always struggled — until now.
And how fitting is it that La Rosa’s eighth homer of the season, a first-inning blast that cleared the scoreboard in right, would be the difference in Diamond Bar’s dramatic 1-0 victory over West Covina on Friday. (To continue click thread)
“It’s something we wanted,” La Rosa said. “We wanted it bad.”
It was the Brahmas’ best defensive game of the season, sophomore pitcher Danielle Wilson going the distance and giving up just five hits to earn the victory and shutout.
The win gave Diamond Bar (15-9, 10-2) a share of the league title with Bonita (22-4, 10-2), an 11-1 winner over Diamond Ranch, with West Covina (17-8, 9-3) finishing third.
Although Bonita owns the first-place tiebreaker over Diamond Bar and will enter next week’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs as the league’s top entry, nothing could take away from the Brahmas’ first piece of the league title since 2004, and for seniors like La Rosa, a chance to compete in her first playoffs next week.
Garcia-Uyemura, who battled heath problems all year, said having the help of assistants Vince La Rosa, Stephany’s father, and Jennifer Cuevas-Flannagan, a former coach at Walnut, made everything even more memorable.
She also said there was an Angel in their corner, referring to her father.
“It was special and like we had three head coaches, I can’t thank them enough or the way the players came through today, it was something I’m never going to forget,” Garcia-Uyemura said. “To put it all together and hold on for 1-0 victory is incredible. You need everyone contributing to do something like that.”
La Rosa, taking pictures with just about anyone around her, took her time leaving the field.
“It’s not just about going 0-10 last year, the past three years we struggled,” La Rosa said. “To have it come together my senior year, with my dad here coaching me and getting this for coach (Garcia-Uyemura), you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
The Brahmas managed only three hits off West Covina pitcher Dekota Monarrez, but there is only one that mattered.
Instead of walking La Rosa with two outs and the bases empty in the first inning, the Bulldogs opted to pitch to La Rosa, and they paid.
It was gone the minute it left her bat.
“We know she’s got that in her,” West Covina coach Colin Logan said of La Rosa’s power. “We tried to pitch her accordingly but she took a pitch the other way and got a home run. It is what it is, what more can you say, give her credit.”
La Rosa was looking to take something deep.
“I’ve been walked quite a few times this season,” La Rosa said. “When a pitcher challenges me I’m up for it. I stepped up to the plate and got hold of one.”
It wasn’t just her offense, La Rosa made three head-shaking plays at short, something her coach has marvelled at for four years.
“She makes a lot of plays the average shortstop doesn’t make,” Garcia-Uyemura said. “That’s the reason she’s going to UCLA.”