View Park Prep High School’s girl’s softball team has achieved the unimaginable, winning the 2016 LA City CIF Section Girl’s Softball Championship in their first year competing in the sport. Led by Head Coach, Leesa Harris and assistant coaches, Brittnei Price and Aprylle Ross, the Lady Knights recovered from a two-run deficit, in a raucous and filled to capacity, Cal State Dominguez Toro field, to defeat Vaughn High School, led by Head Coach Frank Parra, by a score of 5-2, winning the championship.
Down by two in the 4th inning, the coaches felt the players allowed the magnitude of a championship game to become bigger than the principles and goals set at the beginning of the season. In her first year as Head Coach, Harris used her playing experience to help the girls settle down and enjoy the experience.
“We reminded the players to trust the system and once they did, everything we worked on all year came together in one inning,” she said. Harris grew up in inner city LA and wanted to build a program that helped influence and mentor student athletes from her community.
“We [coaches] got them fired up just before they went up to bat. We told them that this is what we do and that we would not come this far and leave this field without a fight,” said Assistant Coach, Price. The Knights then scored five runs in the bottom of the 4th inning, changing the momentum of the game for good. Freshman sensation, Janelle Brown led off the inning with a triple and 1st team All-League freshman Catcher, Sam Johnson bunted perfectly on an executed squeeze play, sending Brown home for the first score. Junior 1st Baseman, Sylvia Williams, followed suit with extra base triple scoring Johnson to tie the game and the batting frenzy was in full effect, igniting a wild five-run rally that proved to be all View Park Prep needed.
Brown, who earned Ocean League Pitcher of the Year honors, finished with 14 strikeouts, five walks and one hit batter in a five-hitter. She dominated Vaughn with her whistling fastball and hypnotic off speed pitches. Vaughn had opportunities in the bottom of the 7th inning, but fell prey to an outstanding 3rd base play from Ro’nae Pumphrey and a throw to first base to from right fielder, Savannah Lovelace – Swann, robbing a Vaughn player of what seemed like a definite single. Vaughn ultimately fell short and View Park finished their season, capping an 18-game winning streak and garnering a championship.
Under the direction of Athletic Director, Robert Ambers, View Park has won 12 CIF Los Angeles City Championships in various sports programs and was California State runner up in Boy’s basketball and football. According to the Ambers, the girls had no field for practicing but were provided transportation to practice off site. “We believe in supporting our student athletes and coaches, by providing them with opportunities to compete. Winning a championship in the first year of a team’s existence just doesn’t happen but it did today,” said Ambers.
Just as impressive as the win, is how the team came to be. Sophomore, 2nd team All-League 2nd baseman, Camille Taylor, came to View Park with softball experience from Rancho Cienaga Park, in South LA. She inquired about a girl’s softball team but had to prove to the school’s administration that there was enough interest in the sport to justify a commitment. Her persistency sparked interest from other students, who signed a petition to create the girl’s team. “I just love the sport and felt View Park should have a team. I didn’t expect us to be this good so soon but it’s a great feeling.” She said.
View Park supporters were boisterous from the start, including Principal, Hurshel Williams, who stood and led cheers the entire game. “The softball team was something we knew we needed to do. It was the students who requested we add some additional programs. It makes us proud to give these ladies the opportunities they have been deserving, and we will continue to strive to strengthen our curricular and extracurricular programs at View Park,” Said Williams.
The game was played on Saturday, May 21, on Cal State Dominguez’ Toro Field.