It was the first league title for the Guards in 17 years, as a Carrie Breedlove-led team won a championship in 1993.
“Our goal was to be successful this season and to play as a team,” Bell-Jeff first-year Coach John Castaneda said. “But we have exceeded all expectations this year.
“The girls really worked hard this season and they made things happen. We as coaches can just show them what needs to be done, but they are the ones who have to do it on the field.”
The Guards have been able to be successful this season despite some hardships. Injuries, players leaving the team, players dismissed for disciplinary reasons and making due with some athletes who had never played softball before, Bell-Jeff has overcome plenty of obstacles.
“With all the changes, our job as coaches was just to put the right players in the right positions,” Castaneda said. “We have had to change some things around, but the players have always been willing to do what they had to do to help us be successful.”
Trailing by a run in the seventh, the Guards battled back. Sarah Martinez started things off with a single to center. The ball rolled under the fielder’s glove and Martinez motored home with the tying run.
Monique Landini followed, reaching base and getting to second on an error. A wild pitch put Landini at third with the winning run. After a flyout, the next batter, Ashley Ketchum, laid down a bunt that was fielded by the third baseman. Instead of checking the baserunner and looking her back to third, the infielder threw to first, allowing Landini to sprint home.
“When I saw her throw, I thought ‘That’s it; I have to go,” Landini said. “I knew I could make it.”