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Softball coaches of the year: Ybarra & Mascarenas, Mission Viejo
MISSION VIEJO – “Ice Cream Fridays” were a staple at Mission Viejo High as recently as 2006.
Team trips to Baskin-Robbins were enjoyable, but when “rocky road” doubles as a flavor and depicts the state of a program, there’s certainly room for improvement.
Under coaches Troy Ybarra and Toni Mascarenas, the Diablos snapped a 20-year league championship drought in 2007. Eight years later, outings to Bill Barber Park in Irvine for championship weekend have become the new norm on Friday evenings.
Carrying the national No. 1 ranking for much of the season, and the county’s top spot from start to finish, Ybarra and Mascarenas have been named the Register’s softball coaches of the year.
“When I started coaching here in 2003, I think we had three or four girls on the team playing travel ball,” said Ybarra, a former player in the Chicago White Sox organization. “I didn’t know a thing about travel ball, but I started coaching it. In 2007, Toni and I started coaching together in travel ball and high school.
“We familiarized ourselves with each other’s ways in coaching, and she’s taught me 80 percent of the softball game and what to look for.”
One of the county’s all-time greats, Mascarenas bolstered Mission Viejo’s program, which has put up league championship banners since 2007.
Well, except for 2009.
“We were co-champs in ’09,” she deadpanned. “I wouldn’t let anybody put up a banner for a co-championship.”
That mentality paired with a roster loaded with talent, led by seniors Taylor McQuillin, Alyssa Palomino, Kayleen Shafer and Bailey Roberson, the Diablos put up a staggering 106-10 record over the past four years, including a 30-1 clip this season - the loss being a 1-0 heartbreaker in the Division 2 title game.
“I think those players put our school on the map,” Mascarenas said of the senior class. “We started making a name for ourselves a few years before that, but just having those elite players come through the program has definitely opened us up to more coverage across the country.”
Losing a wealth of talent to graduation will undoubtedly sting, but with a pair of veteran coaches at the wheel, Mission Viejo will be back in contention with a new cast of characters in 2016.
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