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SUBURBAN LEAGUE SOFTBALL: Enriquez stifles Norwalk bats as John Glenn sends a message

By Loren Kopff

Recently, the John Glenn High softball program has been having one of those ‘we’re there but not quite there yet’ feelings that are common amongst high school teams searching for something good. Currently, the program is on a 24-year playoff drought, the longest in the Suburban League.

But three weeks after upsetting perennial league power La Mirada, the Lady Eagles made another move towards potentially ending that playoff drought. Glenn got past city rival Norwalk 3-1 last Friday, snapping a 21-game losing streak to the Lady Lancers. It was only the fourth win over Norwalk since 1999 and the first home win over Norwalk since 2004. It was the type of victory that has Glenn head coach Albert Enriquez believing that his team is finally closing the gap between his program and Cerritos, La Mirada, Mayfair and Norwalk, the teams that have held down the top four positions for a long time.

“Yeah, I hope so; I think so,” he said. “I keep telling the kids that we have the tools to do what we need to do out here and compete with every team out there. It’s just a matter of getting rid of the Glenn mentality that winning is foreign to them. Little by little, they’re starting to climb up the hill and starting to realize that winning is possible, especially with the tools that they have.”

“I think it’s just about proving who we are and who I’ve always believed we are, even when I was [injured] and cheering for my team,” said junior pitcher Destiny Enriquez. “Just this year, we have all of the arsenal to get out and show everybody who we are. It’s not just, ‘oh, John Glenn, we’re going to be good this year’. It’s ‘look at us, we’re John Glenn and we’re showing you were good this year’.”

Destiny Enriquez had a lot to say in the victory. Not only did she need 72 pitches to handle Norwalk, which is chasing front-running Cerritos for first place, she scattered five hits, struck out six and went two for three at the plate while driving in a run and scoring once.

Norwalk (11-5 overall, 5-2 in league) scored its lone run in the top of the first as junior third baseman Kathleen Perez singled with one out and scored on a two-out single from junior catcher Briana Lopez. After that, Destiny Enriquez settled down, throwing five pitches in the second inning, six in the third and 10 in the fourth.

In fact, Destiny Enriquez would not allow another runner to get past second base the remainder of the game. She even handcuffed one of Norwalk’s top hitters, senior shortstop Jazmin Guzman, getting her to ground out to senior second baseman Jackie Mojica in all three of her at-bats. Guzman would see a total of five pitches.

“I’ve known Jazmin since I was little, too, and she’s always been a great player,” Destiny Enriquez said. “I’ve always feared her when I pitch. But as I’ve been maturing, I’m facing against other girls that will give me fear. The point is not to remember who they are, but it’s another batter and every batter has a weakness and that’s where you have to find their weakness.”

“Destiny has been on fire,” Albert Enriquez said. “She’s another one who has been struggling with the bat also. But she came through today. She’s the type of kid who…she’s a junior now and she’s one of the few that’s been believing that we can have a winning program here. She just comes out here and does it.”

Another player who had been struggling, according to the third-year head coach, was junior shortstop Erica Espinoza, who had a hand in getting the Lady Eagles on the board. The bottom of the first began with freshman Breanna Vasquez walking sophomore third baseman Ashley Armas. After a strikeout, Destiny Enriquez doubled to the right field gap to put Glenn in good shape. Espinoza then fouled off six straight pitches among the 13 she would see before sending a deep ball to center, scoring Armas. The at-bat was kept alive when one of those foul balls was dropped in the middle of Espinoza’s at-bat, thus prolonging her time at the plate.

“It’s a work in progress,” Albert Enriquez said of the one-time Gahr player. “She’s expected to do that. She’s normally in our four or five spot. But it just goes back to our mechanics have fallen through and they worked their [tails] off yesterday and on Monday. I expected to be tough on Wednesday and today, I expected them to hit better and they did. They made progress. But I think there’s more to come from Erica. Erica’s a great hitter.”

Glenn (7-8, 3-2) took the lead in the fourth when Espinoza singled and scored on a two-out double from Mojica. Destiny Enriquez iced the game in the next inning with a two-out home run over the left center fence. After missing the entire 2014 league season due to an injury, Destiny Enriquez is back stronger than ever, improving her record to 5-7. But three of those losses have been by one run and two more have been identical 3-0 setbacks to La Mirada and Norwalk.

“Even if I’m not playing, or if I am playing, softball is my passion and I’ll always have the butterflies,” Destiny Enriquez said. “Even if I have a cast on or if I’m pitching my heart out, it will always be the same thing.

“At first, I was a little nervous,” she added on her return from last season’s injury. “I get butterflies before every game and it’s just because I’m still in love with [the game]. I think the whole part of pitching is staying composed and just staying slow.”

The next test for Glenn was this past Wednesday in a home game against Mayfair and the hosts once again shocked another league power, edging the Monsoons 4-3. It’s the first win over Mayfair since 1999. The teams will meet again today at Mayfair before the Lady Eagles host Cerritos on Wednesday. A split with at least one of those two teams would go a long way because the Lady Eagles end the league portion of its schedule against two teams at or behind them.

“We’re not the same old John Glenn that everyone looks at us as a losing team,” Destiny Enriquez said. “I think we’re sending out the message of we want this as much as you do and we put our pants on the same ways you do. We show heart and hard work beats talent.”

Norwalk bounced back and blanked last place Artesia 10-0 this past Wednesday in a five-inning affair. The two teams meet again today at Artesia before the Lady Lancers visit La Mirada on Wednesday.

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