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Perez continues to dominate

May 21, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

In this day of offensive fireworks in baseball and softball, it is rare for the most dominant player on the field to be the pitcher.

But look at the Central Union High School softball team and that's exactly what you'll find in pitching ace Maria Hansen-Perez.

Ask most Imperial Valley teams who the most dominating local player is and the answer will be Perez.

Central finished 20-5 and 11-1 in the Imperial Valley League. Proving just how valuable she was to the Spartans' success, Perez accounted for all 20 Central wins, going 20-4.

While she has proven to be one of the most dominant softball players the Valley has seen, the success isn't going to Perez's head.


"I'm OK. I'm not great. I think I'm just average," said the 17-year-old senior. "I know with a little work I could become great. I look at myself knowing that there's always going to be someone better."

During the regular season no one locally was better than Perez. Her numbers are mind-boggling.

She ended the regular season with 25 starts and threw 168 innings. She finished with a 0.38 earned-run average, gave up less than a walk per game, averaged more than a strikeout per inning (1.125), averaged eight Ks per game and only allowed 1.92 hits per contest.

Perez allowed only nine earned runs and 48 total hits. She pitched 23 complete games with 17 shutouts and went 13-1 against Division III schools, 2-0 against Division II and 5-4 against Division I.

While Perez's stats are impressive, they wouldn't be what they are without the work she's put in since she started playing the game when she was 5 years old.

"Maria is very well-disciplined and has a strong work ethic. She's usually the first one to practice and is the last to leave," said Central coach Sandy Montalvo. "She is a great self-motivator and just pushes herself almost more than anyone. I think she is 100 percent harder on herself than anyone else."

Said Perez: "I have to give all the credit to my teammates and the coaching staff. I mean, it's not just me. Everyone does their part. It's the team that keeps you going. Game in and game out everyone is aware of what their job is and takes care of business."

It was because of the entire team playing as one unit that Central enjoyed as much success as it did, winning the IVL championship.

Next on Perez's and the Spartans' agenda is a CIF San Diego Section Division III quarterfinal date with Our Lady of Peace at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in El Centro.

While Tuesday's game is quite possibly the biggest game of Perez's career, she will probably enter the contest with her usual calm, composed demeanor before turning the switch and adding more victims to her already impressive résumé.

"During the season I just went out there and took care of business," said Perez. "Before each game I just say to myself, ‘You know what your job is, now execute.'"

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