Friday Jun 08 2012
AJ Female Athlete of the Year: Alyssa Reina
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Staff Writer
Reina ultimate team-first player
Despite her gaudy numbers, the first thing Alyssa Reina talks about when discussing the Bear River High softball team is the performance of others. She?s quick to point out how well one of the team?s two ace pitchers threw in the game or a clutch play someone made in the third inning. The team-first mentality is easy for Reina, who was named the Auburn Journal?s Female Athlete of the Year. The senior has played with some of the Bruins since she was 6 years old and even took it upon herself to coach some of the less-experienced ones along the way. ?I?ve never been on a team where I loved going to practice just so I could be with the girls,? Reina said. ?? Of course I?m going to remember the wins and losses and the great games that we had, but it?s the memories that I made with the team, with the girls that I?m going to be able to carry forever. I just love them, they?re like my sisters.? Reina was a big reason for Bear River?s run to the Sac Joaquin Section Division III title, the school?s fifth section title in six years and first in Division III. Not only was she the starting catcher for every game of the season in which the two-person pitching staff combined for a 1.29 ERA, but she led the team in nearly every offensive category. Her school-record .589 batting average was the 10th highest in the section and she crushed seven home runs to set the school record in career home runs at 19. In all, Reina holds or is tied for nine school records. Again, though, her stats are just one side of Reina?s story. Although she was talented enough to play on varsity her freshman season she was held back on the junior varsity squad. The reason was two-fold: The Bruins already had a stud catcher in Kathryn Rabak and someone needed to catch Maddie Phelps, whom she has played with since her family moved to the area from Sunnyvale when she was 6 years old. ?I know she could have played,? said former Bear River coach Duane Zauner, who retired after this past season. ?I told her parents she could have played on the varsity level. It was a little humbling, but they accepted the role and of course you see where she?s at now.? Her play behind the plate flourished this season. She threw out 16 runners and helped Phelps to a 1.34 ERA and Erin Nichol to a team-low 1.18 ERA. Reina?s relationship with Nichol was especially important because the two have played nearly year-round between travel ball and high school. ?She always made me a better pitcher,? Nichol said. ?She was always just encouraging me and letting me know that I can accomplish anything in this sport. She was not only my best friend but the best catcher I have ever had catch me.? Despite her team-first attitude, she still gets on herself when she doesn?t perform up to her standards. In the section championship game, in which the Bruins beat Whitney 9-3, Reina was only 1-for-4. So when she got the opportunity to dawn the Bear River jersey one last time in an all-star game she smashed a home run in her only plate appearance. Whether she went 4-for-4 with two extra base hits or didn?t log a hit in a game, Reina can be found in the cage. To her, an extra 30 minutes in the cage before or after practice isn?t a sacrifice, it?s what she had to do to be at the top of her game and secure a college scholarship. The extra effort paid off in the form of a scholarship to North Dakota State where she will likely compete for the starting catcher spot from Day 1. A future in such a cold, desolate area though often leads to the question, why North Dakota State? But if you know Reina, the answer is simple: The team. ?I love the people there and I love everything about it,? said Reina, who also garnered interest from Boston College and Utah, among others. ?It?s not only about what division it is or where it is. It?s about the people and the softball program. I just fell in love in with it. It?s a home far away from home.?