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Arab pitcher continues to dominate on the mound

February 05, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN
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Sports Writer

Through nine games, the Imperial Valley College softball team is a game over .500 and is starting to find its niche.

Over the weekend IVC went 3-1 at the College of the Desert tournament in Palm Desert, losing Sunday to host team COD.

Although having some struggles on the offensive end, one of the strengths for the Arabs has been its pitching, namely Maria Hansen-Perez.

Hansen-Perez has accounted for four of the team's five victories and in the other win earned the save.

In five games last week (three at the COD tournament), the 19-year-old freshman finished with 38 strikeouts, including 10 in a losing effort to COD on Sunday.

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Including her performance last week, Hansen-Perez has 53 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings, only five walks and 10 earned runs, which translates to a 1.58 ERA. What's more impressive is her pitch count. Of the 631 pitches she's thrown, 457 have been strikes.

While her numbers are impressive, they are the last thing on her mind.

"The numbers really don't matter to me. I just go out and throw," said Hansen-Perez, a 2001 graduate of Central Union High in El Centro. "When it starts to come down to numbers and you're worried about your stats, you really don't pitch that well."

Still, the pitching statistics she's posted this year are impressive, considering it is her first year of collegiate softball.

"I can't say all those numbers are just me. Most of those are because of the rest of the team," she said. "So I give all the credit to my catchers (Amber Marquez and Olga Noris) and the defense."

While her performance was somewhat expected, considering she was the most dominant high school pitcher in the Imperial Valley last year, she continues to turn heads with her exploits.

"I was very impressed with how she pitched last week. As much as I was impressed, I kind of expected it because she is such a hard worker," said IVC coach Jill Lerno. "Every time she takes the mound she always gives 100 percent. Even if she just gives 95 or 99 percent, she'll keep on working even harder so she can give that 100 percent.

"I think a big reason for that is because she doesn't want to let anyone down, her teammates, coaches and herself. And so far this year, with the way she's been pitching, she hasn't."

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