In his 41st and probably last season as baseball coach at Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley High, Bob Zamora guided the Cougars to their seventh Southern Section championship, beating Santa Ana Foothill 2-1 in the Division 1 final.
It was one of his most enjoyable seasons because so many of his players had grade-point averages above 4.0 and were passionate about winning a championship. And the parents let him coach.
“Our parents have been really good this year,” he said. “I was the father to the kids. There had to be some tough love, but we got through it and the parents didn’t get in the way and I really appreciate that.”
Zamora has been selected The Times’ coach of the year. The Cougars finished 25-10 and went on a five-game winning streak during the Division 1 playoffs. Their semifinal victory over No. 3-seeded Orange Lutheran was an example of their strategy — play small ball and rely on pitching and defense. They bunted and bunted, giving players the opportunity to deliver in the clutch.
And Zamora will not forget the final bus ride home from Cal State Fullerton.
“That ride had every last person on the bus having a good time because they really liked each other and bought into the team concept,” he said. “It’s old-school baseball. We’re putting down three and four sacrifices in a seven-inning game. That’s what we did well and it paid off.”