Miners’ purple reign on the diamond

An El Diamante softball player bunts at home against Redwood.(Kason Clark)

El Diamante softball catches 4-1 victory over rival Redwood, ties with the Rangers for first in East Yosemite League with 5-1 record; Miners don purple uniforms for Crohn’s disease awareness

VISALIA – When Redwood and El Diamante softball met up this past Thursday night, first place in the East Yosemite League was on the line. With the game on their home field, the El Diamante Miners took advantage to pull through for the 4-1 victory to take control of their destiny in league play.

“This is a big win for us. We put ourselves in the driver’s seat for the rest of the season,” El Diamante head coach Stephanie Rapozo said. “If we focus on us through the next four games of league, then we own our own destiny.”

But the win over Redwood was not the most important matter on April 25. At the game, the Miners wore purple uniforms to raise awareness for Crohn’s disease, which Rapozo had been diagnosed with in 2004. Crohn’s disease is an intestinal disease that has resulted in several surgeries for Rapozo over the years.

The Miners hope that by raising awareness for the disease at their game, people diagnosed with the disease will be more open talking about their symptoms and that others will research the disease. The Miners also honored Rapozo for her fight with Crohn’s disease, which meant the world to her.

“I had no idea we were getting purple jerseys, I had no idea that my college jersey was coming out and I had no idea that they had my letterman jacket,” Rapozo said. “It feels really good to win, but this was also a win for me physically, mentally and emotionally. It meant more than I can ever explain.”

After honoring their coach, the Miners looked to make her proud when they played the Redwood Rangers. In the bottom of the first inning, Kaitlyn Moreno got the night started with a double to center field to drive in the first run. Jorja Moreno followed that up with an RBI double to left to make it a 2-0 lead for the Miners.

“I’ve been in a slump lately but I’ve been practicing to get better for this game,” Jorja Moreno said about her big hit. “I just got in my groove, we were cheering in the dugout and the energy stayed high through everything.”

Later in the bottom of the third, Jorja Moreno kept it rolling for the Miners. With two runners on base, Moreno singled to left to clear the bases and extend the lead to 4-0. Along with her stellar day at the plate, Moreno excelled pitching on the mound for the Miners. Through the first six innings, she held the Rangers scoreless.

“I think our pregame was really good. We talked about what we were going to do today and how we were going to stay hyped,” Moreno said about El Diamante’s defense. “We really stayed focused on the game.”

The Rangers finally broke through with a run in the top of the seventh, but the Miners closed it out for the win. Along with improving to 5-1 in league and 15-7 overall, the Miners snapped a four-game losing streak to the Rangers. So getting this win served as sweet revenge for El Diamante.

“It felt really good,” Moreno said. “This time, we really played as a team, worked together and stayed focused in practice to really get this win today.”

With their loss, the Rangers fell to 5-1 in league play and 13-9-2 overall this spring. As they look to stay alive for the league title, Redwood head coach Stevie Johnson believes the Rangers just need to stay focused from here on out.

“We have to stay disciplined 100% understanding that we have four more games that are going to be huge for us,” Johnson said. “We have to stay disciplined all the way around. At the plate, on defense and in our preparation for sure so from here on out, we can’t take anyone lightly.”

“We have to stay disciplined 100% understanding that we have four more games that are going to be huge for us,” Johnson said. “We have to stay disciplined all the way around. At the plate, on defense and in our preparation for sure so from here on out, we can’t take anyone lightly.”

As her team looks to finish the season strong and bring home a league title, Rapozo believes the Miners just have to take the intensity they had in their win over Redwood into the rest of the season.

“We need to keep the energy that we had today every single game from here on out,” Rapozo said. “If we have the same energy and we focus on ourselves only and not what anybody else is doing, we will be fine.”

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