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.