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Athlete of the week — Freshman catcher adding pop to Eagles' lineup

April 02, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

The Southwest High softball team generally has started slowly on offense this season.

But like the old cliché stating it's not how you start that counts, it's how you finish, the Southwest offense has done a good job of finishing.

Last week the Eagles proved that point as they finished 3-2 in the Madison Tournament in San Diego, outscoring their opponents 42-0 in the three victories.

The biggest bat in Southwest's lineup was wielded by 15-year-old freshman Nikki Cordova, who totaled nine hits, including a grand slam and three doubles, five RBI and two runs in the five-game stretch. Against Our Lady of Peace on Tuesday, she went 4-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.

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"That was a good week for us. For me, I finally started picking it up with my hitting. I was struggling at first, but the team was there for me, supporting me, even when I wasn't doing all that good," said Cordova, the team's catcher. "At the tournament I just focused more on what I was doing and wasn't messing around so much at the plate."

Her added focus paid off as she helped lead Southwest to a 10-0 win over Madison, an 18-0 thrashing of Lincoln and a 14-0 hammering of Our Lady of Peace. She said she was able to do well because of the offensive production from her teammates.

"Sometimes it takes awhile to get our offense going, but when we do, then it's just like contagious," said Cordova. "Melissa (Lerno) is our leadoff hitter and she usually gets things going and steps up with hits when we need them. Once she does that, then it rubs off and our confidence seems to go up."

Cordova and her teammates can now focus on the most important task, which is the Imperial Valley League.

Despite a large number of underclassmen, including herself and Lerno, both freshman starters, Cordova thinks this team has what it takes to compete for a league title.

"I think we'll be really good in league. There's a lot of competitive teams this year and it's going to be tough, but if our hitting comes around, we have a good chance at making a run at a championship," said Cordova. "But even if we don't win it this year, most of the team is going to be together for the next few years, so we'll be able keep getting better and try to win league over the next few years."

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