Former Rialto High School All-CIF performer Raelene Estrada lined a game winning three-run triple in the 9th inning to help her USA Athletics Gold softball travel team to a spot in the title game of the 100-team Championship Cup Tournament being held at Harvard Park in Irvine. Estrada’s dramatic triple came with two strikes and two outs to provide her Long Beach-based team the 7-4 win over the San Francisco Wolfpack.
Estrada’a game winning hit came at 10 a.m. on a day that began at 5 a.m. for the Estrada family. Like at many other tournaments and high school games, her parents Richard and Rachel are used to driving their daughter on long commutes. For the tourney in Irvine, they drove Raelene back and forth from Rialto for two games a day for five days. “I realize how much my parents have sacrificed for me throughout my life,” said the 18-year-old Estrada.
She told of 11 consecutive years that her parents have paid extra for her softball career instead of taking vacations. “Honestly. We’d like to take some time off. It’s a big commitment,” said Richard Estrada, who will continue the routine next season with his 10-year-old daughter Riley. “She is already pretty good and wants to be like her big sister. Actually, we enjoy the whole thing.” Estrada’a coach at Rialto High School, Joe Baca, Jr. feels the time the Estrada’s have spent on their daughter is time well spent. He said Raelene Estrada earned a full scholarship to play softball at the University of Pacific. “She is possibly the best pure hitter to come from Rialto High School. She is the complete package,” said Baca. “Scholarships are a financial risk for colleges, but Estrada has good SAT scores and a high GPA. She will compete for the starting shortstop position at UOP right away.”
Baca acknowledged that travel ball can present challenges for high school coaches. It is universally considered that you have to play travel ball to get a scholarship, but Baca said there was no loss of intensity when Estrada played at high school compared to her play at the higher skill level of travel ball. “I’m used to playing all the time. The competition level is higher and tense in travel ball, so I get excited when it’s time to play at high school,” said Estrada.
Along with University of the Pacific, a long list of Division I colleges recruited Estrada, including Providence, UC Davis, Florida International, and North Dakota. Baca’s record keeping played a part in Estrada’s eye-catching resume that includes a San Andreas League MVP award, two All CIF first team selections, two All-San Bernardino picks, and three-time All-SAL first team. Baca told that Estrada was a four-year starter who’s career batting average was .480. In her senior year, she hit .489 with nine home runs, 46 hits and 43 RBI. Her MVP junior year, she helped the Knight’s to the SAL title with a .630 average, 46 hits, six home runs, and 44 RBI. As a freshman, she helped Rialto to another league championship by hitting .500.
Estrada said she chose to go to the University of the Pacific in Stockton because it was closer to home. She agreed with Baca about competing right away at starting shortstop or third base at UOP. Due to the manic schedule she kept in high school, Estrada said she is well prepared for college life. “I’m used to managing my days which start at 5 a.m. and end between 11-12 at night. In between practice, games and homework, I have the daily habit of working out in the gym in our garage.” She considers English her favorite class, with sights set on a career in the athletic training field.