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Bell-Jeff's Monique Landini is steady softball force

Senior has helped elevate Guards' program, as team finds itself in CIF title game.

May 30, 2013|BY JEFF TULLY
(Tim Berger Staff…)

Monique Landini paced around the softball diamond clutching her right hand, wishing the pain would go away.

Landini, a senior shortstop and four-year starter for Bellarmine-Jefferson High, suffered an injury to the ring finger of her throwing hand Tuesday in a CIF Southern Section Division VI semifinal game against host Santa Paula at Harding Park. Landini was taking infield practice in between innings and looking in another direction when a teammate rifled a ball her way. The ball struck her hard in the hand.

The game was halted momentarily as Landini was being attended to by the Guards' coaches and athletic trainer, while the Bell-Jeff faithful was left to ponder Landini's fate.

"I knew she wasn't coming out," Bell-Jeff Coach Florencio Galindo said. "She's as tough as they come. I knew if there was a way she could play she was going to be in there."

A day after the injury, Landini was still dealing with a painful finger that was swollen and bruised.

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"At the time it hurt really bad," Landini said at practice Wednesday. "But although it was hurting, I didn't want to leave the game. I wanted to stay in there for my team."

In spite of the injury, Landini, who is headed to St. John's, was two for four with two stolen bases and two runs scored in a 5-1 victory.

It is that grit, along with an unrelenting work ethic, a desire to succeed and a wealth of talent that has made Landini a valuable member of the Guards team the last four years. She has helped elevate the Bell-Jeff program to a CIF Southern Section title contender and a force in the Santa Fe League. In addition, Landini provides leadership for a team that has just two seniors, as well as experience being a four-year starter.

Landini will bring all of her skills to the table when the Guards play their most important game of the season. Bell-Jeff has earned a spot in its third consecutive CIF championship game, and will take on Mary Star of the Sea at 10 a.m. Saturday at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine in the Division VI title game.

The Guards will be trying to break a string of two consecutive losses in championship games, having been beaten by Pomona Catholic by one-run scores in the previous two Division VII contests.

Having suffered through those two losses, Landini said it's time for the Guards to finally claim their title.

"Having gone through it the last two years, we really want to win it this third time," she said. "All of us are really focused on making that happen and hopefully we will."

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