Eclipse ready for trip to Junior Olympics

July 20, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

For seven to eight years girls from Brawley, El Centro and Holtville have been playing alongside each other on the Imperial Valley Eclipse softball team.

Since they started, most of them as 10-year-olds, they have grown to become good friends. Many compete against each other as fierce rivals during the high school softball season, but when summer rolls around they're united as the Eclipse.

In 10 days the 11 girls who make up the Eclipse will compete in the 2001 Amateur Softball Association/U.S. Western National Junior Olympics girls under-18 tournament at Celebration Park in Federal Way, Wash.

The Eclipse has only played 10 games this summer, but went 5-0 in the Southern California tournament in Escondido to qualify for the Junior Olympics.


"We really haven't played or practiced all that much this summer, but these girls were able to gel because they've been playing together for so long," said Eclipse manager Kariann Strahm. "All these girls have played together growing up and I think because they've known each other so many years that's a reason why we've been so successful."

Competing in the under-16 division last year, the Eclipse took second place in the Junior Olympics.

"I think it's pretty unique that all of us are from different cities and are rivals during the high school season, but we're playing together and we're able to be friends," said 18-year-old second baseman Brett Reeves of Brawley, the oldest team member. "We've all gotten to be really good friends and that makes it easier to play together. If we had conflicts on the team I don't think we'd be doing as well as we are. But we all get along almost like a family."

While the players are the main reason the Eclipse has had so much success, they point to the coaching staff as one of the main ingredients, particularly assistant coach Richard Corpuz.

Corpuz, who has been coaching 11 years, has coached all the players since they competed in the under-10 division and has followed them since. They have all grown up learning from him. He is considered "a softball dad," according to Reeves.

But Corpuz, whose daughter Audrey is a team member, isn't one to take sole credit for the success of the team. He said the players competing with and against each other throughout the years has helped them get where they are.

Brawley's Kaylin Rubin agreed, saying the experience of playing together for eight years is a main factor in the team accomplishing so much.

While high school softball is intense, playing in the summer allows the players to just have fun.

Said 17-year-old Claudia Maldonado of El Centro: "One of the main reasons we're doing so good is because we're having fun. We're almost like family and we can mess around and just have fun with each other. Even though we're having fun, we're still making everything work and we're able to play our best and win."

The Eclipse is raising money to pay for the trip to the Junior Olympics. Those wanting to support the team should call 344-4719 or 344-5805.

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