Sophomore Reese Guevarra of nationally ranked Immaculate Heart Academy (NJ), while breaking arguably the most successful softball HS program in NJ’s (10 State Championships) single-season hit record with 67 hits, earns NFCA 1st Team All-American honors.
Only 16 players in the country were selected to this honor.
Reese Guevarra is quick to admit that she wasn’t a natural the first time she stepped onto a softball field as a kid.
“I remember running around the bases in the wrong direction,” she said.
From inauspicious beginnings.
The resident of New City, N.Y., built on a successful freshman season for Immaculate Heart last year by batting .563 with a school-record 67 hits and 52 runs scored from the leadoff spot to spark the offense and help lead the Blue Eagles to their state-record 10th Non-Public A state softball title.
“When Ally Dudek hit that walk-off single in the state championship, it was so exciting to go running out and jump on the field,” said Guevarra, The Record Softball Player of the Year, referring to IHA’s 1-0 win over Notre Dame. “We had accomplished our goal.”
Goals were very important to Guevarra, who even as a sophomore took on a huge leadership role for a young team that had lost seven starters from the year before and didn’t have a senior in the starting lineup.
“She is the ultimate team player,” IHA coach Anthony LaRezza said. “She works so hard at everything she does.”
Guevarra, who has verbally committed to Connecticut, where she hopes to study biology, started out with a background in mixed martial arts. But that was soon overtaken by softball, which has become a 12-month-a-year endeavor.
“My life revolves around softball,” she said. “I’m always looking for ways to get better because the girl next to me might be better.”
Last winter, she put more time into working out with weights, which paid off with six homers and 35 RBI to go along with the speed that always has been a hallmark of her game. She wrote herself into the school record books late in the season with her 63rd hit of the season, breaking the record set by Carly Piccinich in 2012.
“I was so proud that I did it,” said Guevarra, who rarely gets through an interview without mentioning the legacy of IHA softball at least once. “[LaRezza] told me I was going to get 62 hits this year, but I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t have done it without my team.”
She also played an errorless center field over 34 games, an improvement over her freshman season. LaRezza had told her to put extra emphasis on defense during the off-season last year.
“She puts so much pressure on a defense in so many ways,” LaRezza said of Guevarra, who also had 12 stolen bases. “She’s impossible to defend. That’s the dynamic she brings to the team.”
“I love hitting because it’s you against the pitcher,” said Guevarra, who used to pitch before she entered high school. “My mind-set mindset is to get on base any way that I can. Then I can use my speed, which is what people know me for.”
Now it’s on to her club team, the New Jersey Inferno, for a summer and fall filled with more softball. Guevarra said the team will be traveling travelling to tournaments in Colorado and Georgia this summer.
“It’s great when you sit down and see pitchers you faced in Colorado and Georgia playing on television [in college],” she said. “You think, ‘Wow, I played against her.’ ”
But it always comes back to New Jersey and IHA for Guevarra.
“I’m very proud to wear those three letters on my jersey,” she said.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Immaculate Heartwas one of the most impressive teams in the state in 2015, and a big reason for that was the spark they got from their lead-off hitter. Sophomore centerfielder Reese Guevarra was the offensive catalyst for the Blue Eagles, helping the Bergen County squad capture the Non-Public A crown for the first time since 2012 and its state-best 10th overall.
An excellent hitter, Guevarra batted .557 with 67 hits, 38 RBI, 50 runs scored, 13 doubles, five triples and six home runs. She had double-digit hits in 20 games for Immaculate Heart, and her 67 hits on the season were good for a program record. Her best statistical performance may have been against Passic County Tournament champion DePaul on April 4 when she went 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, four runs driven in and two runs scored.
But Guevarra’s impact can’t just be measured by numbers. The future UConn player didn’t just set the tone by getting on base as well as driving in runs — she was also one of the best defensive centerfielders in the state with excellent range and a strong arm. She is the offensive and defensive centerpiece of a very young team and talented team that has the potential to become a juggernaut.
“Of all the players in the state, just 14 were named First Team All-State. There are three pitchers, a catcher, four infield spots and three outfielders to go along with three players slotted as utiility or designated player.
Those 14 players, the best of the best, are revealed in the photo gallery… Click through to see who NJ.com felt were the top players in the state for the 2015 season…”