Elizabeth Zamora’s talent and skill level on the softball field was obvious early.
In Zamora’s initial game as a freshman for Burbank High after being called up to the varsity, she slapped a resounding double.
“There have been a lot of young players that I have coached over the years that have impressed me. Though the girls come and go, Elizabeth is one that will be engraved in my mind forever,” said Melissa Sanchez, the current coach of the Bulldogs. “Elizabeth, who I have had the great pleasure of coaching, represents the example of a leader. She is someone who is dedicated, passionate, and represents what it means to be an amazing teammate.”
Sanchez added: “In the time over the last year where we were all challenged, this particular player overcame the difficult times,” she said. “She maintained a 4.0 [grade-point average], conditioned every day, and worked on her hitting and fielding. Elizabeth is admired, loved and understood by all her teammates and coaches. She has a place in my heart forever.”
This season the junior second baseman and two-time team captain is hoping that the team will actually be on the field and playing games that matter.
“The biggest goal I have for my team this season is to get back on the field and to play with my teammates,” said Zamora, who was named the junior varsity Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman. “I am hoping we can finally play together again. I miss the memories we made every single day. Our game days were so fun and I hope we can all experience that again soon.”
One year ago this month, the coronavirus shut down high school sports and a lot more.
“COVID has affected my team and I because it has taken a lot away from us, including our season last year, memories, and many more opportunities,” Zamora said. “Our season last year got cut short and we only got to play two games. It was especially hard for our seniors last year, as they were looking forward to a season all year.”
Zamora continued: “One of the most fun parts of the season is our Burroughs versus Burbank game, for which the whole city looks forward to,” she said. “The season is always the best and most exciting part of the year for the athletes. So many memories are made that will last forever and we weren’t able to make many this past year. But, we have to put that behind us and now we have already started practicing for our 2021 season. Our season starts in one month and I could not be more excited. It feels so good to be back on the field because I know we have all missed it so much. We are all so grateful to have this opportunity again.”
Zamora, who batted .400 with a .423 on-base percentage, garnering 10 hits with six runs batted in and five runs scored as a sophomore, knows how to rally the squad when matters aren’t going well.
“When my team and I aren’t playing well, I encourage them. We all have our bad days where we miss a grounder or can’t get a hit; it’s normal,” she said. “I tell them to start fresh and that they’ll get it next time.”
Showing the way and being patient with the younger players is one way Zamora demonstrates that she’s a leader.
“My role on the team is to be a role model, especially for the freshmen or new players,” Zamora noted. “I am a team captain and I demonstrate good sportsmanship and leadership. I keep a high grade-point average [4.00] all year and show the girls that if I can do it, so can they!”
Zamora added: “I also am very supportive towards the girls and give great advice. Especially since I have been on the team for a few years,” she said. “I know the program well and I am always there to answer any questions my teammates might have.”
It’s important to keep a steady and calm head on your shoulders according to Zamora.
“When we have an upcoming softball game, I keep a positive mindset the entire day. I make sure to not let anything get to my head and to not get nervous,” she said. “As game time comes closer, I keep my energy up and make sure I keep my teammates pumped.”
Zamora went on: “Usually, we don’t have a problem with this because we automatically have a lot of energy when we’re around each other. And no matter which team we’re playing, good or bad, I always remember to play at our level and to play our hardest,” she pointed out. “When the game ends, I always take away parts of the game that I could’ve done better so I can improve next time.”
Former Bulldogs coach Mike Delaney had her as a first-year player and liked what he saw.
“I only coached Elizabeth her freshman year. At that time, she had lots of raw talent. I thought she would be a very strong varsity player later in her high school career,” he said. “She’s an extremely hard worker and a strong leader by example.”
Being able to assist and help other players is something Zamora wants to do.
“I do consider myself a leader because I constantly check up on my teammates and push them to keep going,” she noted. “I never miss practices or meetings and always give 100 percent any time I am on the field. I love setting an example of my coach’s expectations, especially for new players so they can see how she expects us to do things. Since I have been a team captain for two years, I do believe I have been doing my best job in helping the program and players improve and succeed.”
Being an anchor in the infield is essential to Zamora because it sets a positive tone.
“I believe my best assets on the field are how well I communicate and get along with my teammates,” she said. “In addition, the chemistry I have with my teammates is one of my favorite parts about being a part of this team. We all get along so well, which makes playing on the field so much easier.”
Zamora added: “Everyone is constantly lifting each other up if a mistake is made,” she said. “I absolutely love playing second base especially because of how well I work with our shortstop, Samantha Buckley [who is a sophomore]. We communicate very well and we are in awe. We turn double plays barehanded and dive like nothing.”
Even with two years left to play softball for the Bulldogs, Zamora has made lasting memories.
“I will remember the relationships with my teammates the most. I have never been on a softball team with this good of a bond. Through softball, I have met some of the most genuine people that I still talk to every day and will continue to do so throughout my lifetime,” she said. “I’ll also always remember my coach, Melissa Sanchez, because she always pushes me to do my best. She has definitely made me a better person and helped me improve as an athlete all in only one year, which was her first year coaching at Burbank High. Some of the things she has taught me are the importance of attitude and sportsmanship.”
It’s the little things that make being on the softball team so special for Zamora.
“Playing softball for Burbank High is exactly how I thought it would be,” she said. “When we were in school, going to practice or our games would be my favorite part of the day. I honestly cannot imagine going to school and not playing softball. It has made me love this sport even more than I thought I could. I also loved how we did, “big sister, little sister” on game days, where we would each have a teammate to buy gifts for.”
Hopefully, Zamora will have two more years to spend with her teammates and coaches and make even more lasting memories.