Alfonso Durazo didn’t have many chances to see his daughter, Sandra, play for the Kennedy High softball team this season.
His job at United Parcel Service precluded him from attending most of the Golden Cougars’ mid-afternoon games. So he had to be content watching videotape after videotape of Sandra overwhelming the competition.
Durazo has led a group of talented underclassmen to Kennedy’s greatest softball success in more than a decade.
The Golden Cougars were undefeated in the Northwest Valley Conference and advanced to the City Section 4-A Division championship game for the first time since 1982.
Pitching every inning for the Golden Cougars, the junior right-hander finished 18-2 with an 0.47 earned-run average.
As dominating as she was on the mound, her biggest improvement came at the plate. Durazo led area City Section hitters with a .596 average.
“I really feel that’s the part of my game that’s improved the most,” Durazo said. “It’s not so much the power, but I’m making better contact and hitting the ball harder.”
Even on the rare occasions Durazo ran into trouble, she persevered. In the City 4-A semifinals against Monroe, she gave up three runs on five hits in the third inning as Kennedy fell behind, 3-1.
But she held the Vikings without a run the rest of the way. The Golden Cougar offense kicked in and produced an 8-3 victory.
The season’s lone disappointment came in the final against El Camino Real on May 21 at UCLA’s Easton Stadium.
After dominating batters all season, Durazo, with her father in attendance with his video camera, gave up 11 hits in a 6-0 loss.
In 1993, the year before Durazo and Coach Lee Holden arrived, Kennedy did not win a game in Northwest Valley Conference play.
Kennedy reached the quarterfinals in Durazo’s first two seasons before this year’s final appearance.
“It was real emotional on the way back home,” Durazo said. “But it will give us something to play for next year.”
And her father will be watching, be it live or on tape.