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Overworked & Overlooked

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lupe Brambila of Monroe High is too positive a person to wallow in self pity. She’s also too humble--and too darn busy.

A .547 hitter with 32 runs batted in this season, Brambila went unnoticed by college recruiters. Nobody called. Nobody came by.

Brambila will showcase her overlooked talents for the West team in the San Fernando Valley All-Star game today at 4:30 at Cal State Northridge.

Although the 5-foot-6 catcher is disappointed by the absence of recruiters, Brambila is not holding any hopes of a last-minute offer.

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“That’s not my main goal anymore,” Brambila said. “I’m just trying to focus on school because softball isn’t getting me anywhere right now.”

Meanwhile, academics--and a 3.6 grade-point average--got the four-sport athlete into UCLA.

Brambila, a baseball player who made the switch to softball only four years ago, said she will attempt to make the UCLA softball team as a walk-on.

But softball is not the reason she chose UCLA. Sure, the chance of playing softball for the country’s most successful program would be nice, but she is mature enough to know that a UCLA education is the key to her future.

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Brambila is clearly a self-motivated high-achiever.

She has lettered 13 times in a varsity sport: four letters each in softball and track and field, three in soccer and two in volleyball.

She’s worked part-time in a Woodland Hills law office for nearly a year, paid for three-quarters of her 1969 Mustang and maintained a B-plus average in school.

“Better to stay busy than to have nothing to do,” she said. “That’s when you get in trouble. I’ve seen enough trouble with my friends to keep me going in the right direction.”

Forward is the only direction Brambila has been headed since she entered high school.

As a freshman, Brambila made the varsity softball and track and field teams, two sports that are in season at the same time.

Brambila, whose personal best is 37- 1/2 feet in the shot put, placed third in the City Section championships last year and qualified for the state meet.

There have been plenty of days when Brambila would rush to a track meet, throw the shot and race cross-town to her softball game.

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When an athlete is as good as Brambila, coaches make allowances.

“She just does an outstanding job in everything she does,” softball Coach Jodi Ferry said.

Voted most inspirational by her teammates, Brambila is a silent leader who speaks volumes with her athleticism.

Brambila’s 32 RBIs and nine home runs led the region’s City Section teams. She also led her team with 35 hits and 25 runs scored.

Although the City is not known for its prominent pitching, Brambila excelled against the best. Facing Kennedy ace Sandra Durazo early in the season, Brambila hit two home runs in Monroe’s 10-2 loss.

They were home runs not soon forgotten by Kennedy Coach Eric Moorman, one of the coaches for the West team today.

With Thousand Oaks’ Justine Rachlin and El Camino Real’s Ramona Shelburne already in place as catchers for the West, it was Moorman’s call to name the third catcher.

“I was given the choice between Lupe and [Granada Hills’] Jennifer Del Real,” Moorman said. “I’ve known Jennifer a long time, but I couldn’t pass on nine homers and [32] RBIs.”

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Yet, the fact that recruiters passed on this offensive threat is no mystery to Brambila.

She admits to a below-average summer season last year with the Outlaws 18-and-under team, which did not qualify for the national tournament.

“I think I tried a little too hard and got too stressed out trying to get colleges to look at me,” she said.

She also believes that her lack of exposure hurt her cause.

Whether or not she plays in college remains to be seen, but in getting to this crossroads, Brambila formed a fan club.

“If I had a daughter, she would be it,” said Ferry, who has coached Brambila for the past two seasons.

“She really is an outstanding young lady. Truly a role model.”

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Softball Game Rosters

East

*--*

No. Player, School Pos. 1 Tina Curcio, Alemany OF 3 Kara Campbell, La Canada INF 7 Vanessa Raschella, Hart OF 9 Rian Standley, Verdugo Hills INF 12 Dani Morris, Burroughs OF 19 Hope Robertshaw, Cres. Vlly INF 21 Karla Nanne, Hoover INF 22 Jessica Aquino, San Fernando INF 22 Jodi Kent, Verdugo Hills C 24 Tamra Freedman, Mont. Prep OF 27 Nicole Giordano, Saugus P 31 Shannon McRoy, Saugus INF 31 Karina Avendano, Sylmar C 32 Vicki McKay, Paraclete P 34 Tracy Passafiume, Saugus INF

*--*

West

*--*

No. Player, School Pos. 1 Ramona Shelburne, El Cam. Real C 1 Justine Rachlin, Thou. Oaks C 4 Becky Witt, Louisville OF 6 Missy Miller, Granada Hills INF 7 Erika Hanson, Thousand Oaks INF 9 Heather Bunch, Agoura INF 9 Jennifer Sharron, Thou. Oaks P 11 Kristy Rebbeck, Reseda INF 13 Tracey Milburn, Moorpark OF 16 Kortney Edge, Camarillo OF 16 Megan Petersen, L.A. Baptist OF 17 Stacey Fields, Kennedy INF 17 Brooke Rutschman, Camarillo INF 21 Sandra Durazo, Kennedy P 25 Lupe Brambila, Monroe C

*--*

San Fernando Valley All-Star Game

SOFTBALL

WHO: West vs. East

WHEN: Today at 4:30

WHERE: Cal State Northridge

DIRECTIONS: 405 Freeway, exit west on Nordhoff. Right on Zelzah. Parking on left. Field behind tennis courts.

TICKET INFORMATION: Available at gate. General admission is $5; $2 for children 12 and under.

FAST FACT: The East leads the series, 7-3, including four victories in the past five years.


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