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Bulldogs big part of IVC softball team

March 02, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

IMPERIAL — Looking down the Imperial Valley College softball team's roster, one can't help but notice the number of Calexico players.

Of the 12 players on the team, eight played softball at Calexico High School.

The players from Calexico are sophomores Karen Rivera, Mariel Martinez, Kristine Morales, Lilian Morales and Michelle Briseño and freshmen Jenny Burgos, Liliana Corona and Jenny Briseño.

Arab coach Jill Lerno didn't plan on Calexico products dominating her roster. That's just the way things worked out.

Lerno said she can't really put her finger on exactly why the number of Calexico players is as great as it is, but said one reason may be the growing support for athletics in Calexico.

"I think their whole community is starting to get more involved and that's producing more athletes who want to keep playing," said Lerno.

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About two years ago Lerno had the same situation but from a different town, with a number of her players from Imperial High.

Lerno thinks school representation on her teams works in a bit of a cycle, although she said such cycles only tend to run through certain schools.

"I really wish we could get this type of turnout from all the Valley schools," said Lerno. "Yes, it is good that we have this many girls from the same school, but I'd like more variety."

Burgos thinks the reason more players from other schools aren't attending IVC is they are given more opportunities to play elsewhere because of success on the field.

"Brawley has been real successful and I think more people come down to look at their team. Because of that, more Brawley players are getting scholarships to play at other places," said Burgos.

"Calexico is starting to build a program like that, and I think maybe in a few years you'll have the same thing happen there, where there won't be as many players from Calexico coming here to play."

Along with all the players from Calexico are a handful from El Centro.

Michelle Briseño said that may be a positive for IVC. Because the majority of the players are from the same area, they know each others' quirks on the field, making for solid play.

Still, all interviewed agreed having players from other area schools could help the Arabs.

"We have a good team, but I think we could be stronger with girls from other schools," said Jenny Briseño. "Without them, it just means all the Calexico players have to step it up."

The Calexico players have stepped up. Michelle and Jenny Briseño are the team's starting pitchers and Rivera, Martinez and Burgos have been mainstays in IVC's lineup.

What Lerno thinks is making the difference is their work ethic.

"All the Calexico athletes are very dedicated to improving themselves and they work to the fullest.

"I have no problem with us having as many Calexico players as we do. If we didn't have them we probably wouldn't have a team."

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