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AOW: Perez blowing away competition with arm

March 27, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

After a 1-3 start, the Central Union High School softball team pulled everything together and won all three of its games last week.

With the Imperial Valley League season kicking off, Central picked the right time to get hot.

Leading the Spartans and picking up all three wins last week was pitching star Maria Perez.

In games against Calexico, Cibola and Kofa, both of Yuma, Perez finished with 25 strikeouts in 21 innings and allowed only five hits and walked just three batters, not to mention not giving up any runs.

The Spartans downed Calexico 6-0 Tuesday and followed that with 1-0 eight-inning victories over Cibola and Kofa.

"Against Calexico we went out there wanting to win," said the 17-year-old senior. "We were determined to do whatever it took to get that win. We all felt that doing well in that game would set the tone for the rest of the season."

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While Perez is and has been a big part of Central's recent surge, she said the support of her teammates is what has helped her individual success.

Head coach Sandy Montalvo agreed: "She's definitely a big part of this team and is one of the strong links on this team. But she gets a lot of help from her teammates. She has really good chemistry with her catcher (Amber Marques). And I think knowing the defense behind her will make plays helps her confidence."

Having that confidence will be key if the Spartans are to make a run at an IVL crown. Central came up short last year behind Palo Verde and rival Brawley Union High School.

Perez knows the road to the title goes through Brawley and Palo Verde and possibly other IVL teams, but she thinks Central is ready to step up to the challenge and contend.

"This team has a really good chance of getting somewhere. We're looking at beating all the teams," said Perez. "I don't want to lose. For me it's hard to take losses. I just take losing personally. I guess that's just my competitive spirit.

"So right now, we're all looking at winning league. We expect nothing less than first place. It's first place or nothing at all."

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