Culver City Observer -

Culver Softball Thrives On New Field

Former Coach Hudson Is Honored

 

March 26, 2015

Fred Altieri

Lissa Serna slides safe at home

By Fred Altieri

Sports Reporter

A brand new era in Culver City High softball began with a very satisfying 8-1 victory in its brand new ballpark on a picture perfect Thursday afternoon, March 19, against St. Monica High.

The future of the Centaur program was also prominent in the win featuring the starting pitcher and catcher known as "The Freshmen Duo."

The pregame festivities included player introductions, ceremonial first pitches, a student singing the National Anthem and a heartfelt testimonial honoring the softball program's much-loved assistant coach, Rick Hudson, who passed away this past year.

Head coach John Sargent reflected on the moment: "With the opening of the magnificent new softball field I want to thank everyone that had a big part in making it happen for the girls of Culver City High. Former athletic director and super coach Jerry Chabola was an integral part in bringing the field on campus.

"We'd also like to thank the Board of Education, the past and present school presidents and athletic director Tom Salter who was a go-getter as well. The current and former parents were a big part of it as were the contractors and groundskeepers. The list goes on and on."

Behind a talented infield supported by solid outfield defense, Centaur pitcher Emily Piera, taking the calls from catcher Ava Fairbanks held the visiting Mariners to no runs through the first four innings while the Culver bats swung to an early lead with three runs in the first inning.

Singles by Sidra Montoya and Mariko Rooks set the table for Fairbanks who promptly tripled both runners home and then scored on an error. The 3-0 Culver lead was all that Piera needed as she pitched seven innings with four strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter.

Piera gave credit to her teammates: "I love working with Ava. She's awesome. It's cool to know that she has my back and that I have her back throughout the entire game. I played with her in middle school.

"As a hit-to-contact pitcher I rely on spin when I pitch the ball which means I try to get a lot of pop-ups and depend on my team's defense. They're solid and have done a really good job this year. When a ball is hit I already know it's an out."

She and the other freshmen also feel accepted by the veteran players: "I love being with the team. The girls make it even better because they just make my experience really fun. Ever since we joined the team the older players have been very nice and cool in bringing us under their wing."

Sargent on his starter: "She definitely had them off-balance and showed a lot of poise out there... and to be a freshman. I was really pleased.

"It was a well-played game. Overall the girls did a really good job offensively and defensively. They were a little nervous as it was a big game and was one of the largest crowds of the year. With that, it showed what a young team is capable of in playing good ball clubs.

"St. Monica is a really good team and I'd like to thank them. It's always a good deal when a buddy, coach Joey Carrillo and his St. Monica team decided they wanted to be a part of the opening."

The Culver hitters were on: Julie Perez doubled home two runs; Montoya had two hits, two runs and 1 RBI; Sabrina Perez had a hit and an RBI; Melody Rodriguez and Lissa Serna had big hits in the Centaurs' four-run fourth inning.

Piera said the team was excited: "We were so happy about getting the new field, new fence, new everything... and new uniforms, too.

"The field was beautiful. When we first got to practice on it, it was amazing. Everything felt so right. Before if a ball was hit into the gap it was a home run because there was nothing to stop it. Now with our new fence a runner can easily be held to a double instead of a home run."

Piera, who learned the fundamentals of softball starting at age six from her father Pete, is also called the "The Cuban Missile" by him based on her heritage and the tradition of dubbing Cuban pitchers with a colorful name. She laughed as he related the story. He also revealed that she's worked very hard for the past six years with two local pitching coaches: Brandy Peacock and Megan Hair.

In memory of Rick Hudson the Centaurs wore black armbands with the initials "RH."

Fred Altieri

Culver starter Emily Piera

Sargent recalled: "Rick Hudson was my buddy, good friend, confidant and one of the pillars of the program, not just softball but the other programs too. Rick was the ultimate volunteer.

"He was loved by our team as he coached girls softball for many years. His daughters came through the program. I'm so proud to have known him and his family. It was just a good feeling when we talked prior to the game and what the girls wanted to do. Senior Alex Thomas gave a great testimony about Coach Hudson before the game."

Sargent concluded: "The future of the program is bright. The young freshmen, sophomores, juniors are making the plays. If they continue to improve it can only get better for Culver City softball."

 

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