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Edison's Cordova is softball player of the year
Sammy Cordova is a sweet California girl off the field with a ton of friends and an engaging personality.
But she undergoes a transformation when she steps into the circle for Edison's softball team.
"Warrior, a true warrior. The team's MVP," Edison's first-year coach Josh Musselman said of Cordova.
Cordova took over as Edison's No. 1 pitcher this season and became the kind of go-to player a team needs to win big games in the highly competitive world of high school softball in Southern California.
"It's just something that the game brings out in me," Cordova said of her competitive nature. "I love being out there and I want to win and I'll do anything it takes to help my team win. When we're on the field, we're not friends."
Cordova went 25-5 with 14 shutouts, a 0.88 ERA and 186 strikeouts in 192 innings. She led the Chargers to the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals. Edison was the only Orange County team to reach the final four in Division 1, arguably the toughest division in the state. For her memorable 2012 season, Corodva was selected as The Register's softball player of the year.
"I like the responsibility," Cordova said of being Edison's No. 1 pitcher. "It's a team sport, but I usually do well under pressure and I knew even on games where I wouldn't shut teams out or I gave up a few runs our whole team would come back with more.
"I worked hard this year and all my hard work paid off. But I'm not done yet."
Cordova won over her teammates with her relentless nature and willingness to do anything for her teammates.
"I've grown up with the perspective of pitchers being treated as little princesses and acting prissy while everyone else got no credit for all the hard work they put in," said Karley Wester, Cordova's teammate. "But that is not the case with Sam. When coach told her to sit out to save her energy, she looked at him like he was crazy and said, 'There is no way I'm sitting there and not doing anything while I watch my teammates work their butts off.'
"That personality and respect for her teammates earns a lot of respect in return."
Corodova isn't the tallest or most powerfully built pitcher, but she more than makes up for that in other areas such as her control and her nasty change-up that had opposing hitters flailing at air for much of the season.
"Sammy is a strong competitor and has always been in someone's shadow not earning the respect she fully deserved because she is smaller than most pitchers and not as fast," Wester said. "But I go to school with her and she is one of my closest friends and I know for a fact that she is one of the hardest workers I know."
Cordova, a junior who has committed to Utah, said Edison had a lot to prove heading into this season. The Chargers have had talented teams in recent years, but they got eliminated from the postseason in the first round the past two seasons and in the second round the year before that.
"There was something that clicked right when we came back from Christmas break," Cordova said. "Everyone stepped up as a team and we had that chemistry that connected with teamwork. A few games, especially in the Woodbridge Tournament, we came together as a team.
"Ever since then it feels good. It's hard to explain, but it just feels good."
Some of that new-found chemistry was on display in the finals of the Woodbridge Tournament when the Chargers found themselves down 3-1 against Mission Viejo heading into the bottom of the seventh. Edison loaded the bases in the final inning and freshman Ali Wester delivered a three-run double to give Edison 4-3 triumph over the Diablos in the championship game.
"We worked together every game, every step of the way, we were there for each other, picking each other up," Cordova said. "I don't know what it was, but everyone stepped it up and it worked.
"We had amazing chemistry this year. There was no outside drama, no little cliques, we all for the most part grew up playing with each other. We get along really well on and off the field. It's all good all around. We really came together as a team this year."
Edison suffered a pair of one-run losses to Los Alamitos and finished second to the Griffins in the Sunset League. The Chargers still had a lot to prove heading into the Division 1 playoffs.
Cordova came through with some of her best pitching performances of the season in the postseason. She shut out Murrieta Valley of Murrieta, 6-0, Canyon, 13-0, and Orange Lutheran, 6-0, to help the Chargers reach the semifinals. The Lancers had beaten Edison, 4-2, in the championship game of the Saddleback Valley Tournament on March 14.
"That was big too because they gave us our first loss of the season, so we came out hungry," Cordova said of Orange Lutheran. "We were loose but still competitive. We jumped on them early and I think that's what got them. It was really good for us to jump on them early. They are a great team and they have great coaching too."
Edison's run came to an end against defending Division 1 champion Santiago of Corona in the semifinals. The Sharks beat Edison, 6-4. Three of the runs were unearned. Edison rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh, but Santiago was able to hold on for the victory. Edison was trying to earn its first trip to the finals.
"We were one game short and that's what is tough about it," Cordova said. "We were just one game away (from the finals), but when you look at it and realize, hey, we were the only Orange County team left and to get that far for Edison in the past few years to get out in the first round, we were able to show people who we are and what we are and how we play. It was a great feeling and a great journey with a great group of girls."
Look for the Chargers to be back in the hunt for a Division 1 championship again next season, especially, if Cordova has anything to say about it.