By John Philip Wyllie
Heading into the just completed high school softball season, first year San Diego High School head coach Carlos Ugarte had no reason to believe that 2003 would be any different from previous Caver seasons. While the North Park school had distinguished itself in a variety of sports throughout its many years of competition, SDHS had never won a single league banner in softball. In fact, winning seasons were few and far between in the annals of San Diego High softball. Ugarte, selected to coach the team just prior to start of the season, had little time to prepare and few opportunities to develop his team under game situations. By the time he came onboard, it was virtually too late to schedule pre-league games with other schools.
Led by the pitching of Harbor League Pitcher of the Year April Vasquez, who won 11 consecutive games and the hitting of Harbor League Player of the Year Christina Tucker, who hit .600 and blasted 10 home runs during a 12 game stretch, the Cavers (11-2, 10-0) went undefeated in league play, secured SDHS’s first softball league banner and advanced to the first round of the CIF San Diego Section Division I Tournament.
“Everything just fell into place this year,” said Ugarte. “We had good chemistry and as far as leadership, at one point or another we always had somebody that would step up. Whenever we had trouble with our hitting, our fielding would pick up. They played with a lot of heart.”
Vasquez and Tucker were obvious first team all-league selections and infielder Kelly Spahr was a second team all-league selection, but several other players played major roles for the Cavers as well.
“Second baseman Silvina Carmona was very hard on herself, but she would always find a way to bounce back and help us out,” according to Ugarte. “Our left fielder, Lorena Damian was the same way. Center fielder, Ericka Zarate was also outstanding.”
Ugarte was pleased by the way the school rallied around its softball team. Baseball coach Trevor Embera pitched in with the maintenance and lining of the field when cutbacks eliminated SDHS’s grounds maintenance crew. “The girls felt everybody gathering around them,” Ugarte said.
Ugarte concluded the interview by crediting his assistant coaches Ben Puente and Vanessa Galaviz for their contributions to the Cavers success. “They had a lot to do with it,” he said. While the graduation of Tucker will leave a large hole in the Caver attack, Vasquez will be one of nine players expected to return for the Cavers next season.