Athletes who play softball for Sun Valley Village Christian School
don’t consider themselves members of a team.
If the standard dictionary definition of team is “a number of
persons associated in some joint action,” the Crusaders were much
more than that this season.
“We are family. You really can’t describe it any other way,” said
senior designated hitter and No. 2 pitcher Christina Delaney. “We are
very close and we would do anything for one another.”
The family atmosphere, coupled with an invaluable contribution
from a group of six players from Burbank, enabled the Crusaders to
put together the finest season in school history.
On June 6, the Crusaders became the first girls’ team in the
school’s 54-year history to win a CIF Southern Section championship.
Spearheaded by a key suicide-squeeze bunt in the sixth inning of the
Division V title game by resident Amy Servillo, Village Christian
defeated Pasadena Poly, 4-2, at Colonel Bill Barber Memorial Park in
“We were able to win the title because we are so close,” said
Delaney, who is considered the “mother” of the group.
Adding to the local flavor of the team is Coach Jim Stone, a
Burbank High graduate, and assistant Mike Delaney, who went to
Taking over the coaching duties this season, Stone -- whose
daughter, Laura, is the team’s starting catcher -- said the Crusaders
have something he has never experienced before.
“This is a very unique group of girls,” Jim Stone said. “The
chemistry and the unity are something I have never experienced before
with a team.”
Stone said the players have an inherent ability to check their
egos at the dugout and not bring any distractions with them on the
Sophomore outfielder Marissa Zubricky noticed the Crusader varsity
squad was something special when she first joined the team.
“I was on [junior varsity] most of the year, and I was brought up
to varsity for the playoffs,” she said. “This group is just so united
and the players really work together and don’t get down on one
Most of the local players like to call themselves “lifers,” having
attended Village Christian since kindergarten. So with their
commitment to the school, although they live in Burbank, there was no
question they were headed to Village Christian to attend high school.
One of the things that has strengthened their bond as a group is
the Crusader players have known one another for years -- even before
they started playing softball at Village Christian.
“Being a senior, there are times when I have to try and motivate
the other players and try and get them pumped up,” said Patricia
Servillo, a senior shortstop who will play at UC San Diego in the
fall. “I felt like I knew them well enough and I knew exactly what to
say to them to get them going.
“Some girls respond to anger, and some girls respond to other
things, so I was able tap into that because I knew them so well.”
Patricia’s sister Amy -- a junior third baseman -- said along with
the closeness, the players’ work ethic is something that also helped
propel the Crusaders to success.
“I have never been a part of a team that has worked so hard,” she
said. “All of these players worked very hard this season and it’s
like we belong together.”
Although they don’t attend a school in Burbank, five of the six
local Village Christian players learned softball and were brought up
playing in the city’s Park, Recreation and Community Services
Department Ponytail League.
All the girls agreed that playing in the Park and Rec league
helped them develop their athletic skills.
“When you go on to play travel ball, and in high school, it’s so
serious and so much emphasis is put on winning,” freshman left
fielder Jackie Ruiz said. “In Burbank, we learned the game and it was
fun. Back then, it didn’t matter that much if you lost. It was just
all about having fun.”
Jim Stone said he sees a definite advantage of getting players who
come to Village Christian after cutting their teeth in the local
"[Mike Delaney and I] both coached in the Burbank Park and Rec
department,” he said. “We have seen, one year after another, the
girls who end up at Village, building up their skills and learning
the game of softball. And that learning has led to us being able to
win a title this year.
“When they come to Village, we aren’t having to teach them the
fundamentals of the sport. We are able to build on the skills they
have learned playing in the park league, and in travel ball.”
The experience obtained by the players on local diamonds like
Olive Park came to play in the title game against Pasadena Poly.
The Crusaders (22-6) fell behind in third inning, 1-0. However, a
fine showing in the sixth inning enabled them to change the momentum
of the game.
The key moment occurred when Amy Servillo -- the No. 4 hitter --
came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. On a 1-1 count,
Servillo laid down a perfect bunt, scoring Meghan Hanna to tie the
score. Alex Kinney was also able to score on the play on an errant
throw to the plate.
Village Christian scored two more runs in the inning to put itself
in the driver’s seat.
Although the Crusaders haven’t had much time to savor their
championship win, some players are already looking forward to next
“We will lose some key players, but I have the confidence we will
have the players to do well,” Laura Stone said.
“But whatever we do next year, it can never replace what we did
this year. You can never replace the first time you win a