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IHA grad Reese Guevarra recaptures offensive success in sophomore season at UConn

Growing up, Reese Guevarra enjoyed participating in Mixed Martial Arts. However, at nine-years old, she decided to take up the sport of softball and play on a traveling team. Hailing from New City, New York, Guevarra attended Immaculate Heart Academy in Bergen County, New Jersey. There is where she excelled in both academics and athletics.

Guevarra was a multi-sport athlete who earned four letters in softball while also playing volleyball and participating in winter track. She was named a three-time NFCA All-American, four-time NFCA All-East Region, two-time Max Preps Underclass All-American and four-time All-State and All-County athlete. With the Blue Eagles, Guevarra won three state championships, including the first TOC (Tournament of Champions) title in 2017.

She is the program’s all-time career hits leader (216), all-time career batting average (.521), leader in runs scored with 180 and on-base percentage at .585. Guevarra was also a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and honor roll student all four years at IHA.

“Being a multi-sport athlete contributed to me being fit and in shape,” said Guevarra. “It really got me moving and out of my softball bubble. It was nice to take a break and do something else for a change and helped me meet people and communicate differently. I know IHA is a prestigious school and they definitely taught me how to study, have a work ethic and be in a routine. As a student-athlete, I would work out, practice and go straight to homework.”

“I just remember Anthony LaRezza throwing the ball to me after a game and saying, ‘you broke the record for most hits in season’. It placed a soft place in my heart, he was a great guy in general. After games he would just laugh with all of us, telling jokes and stories. He knew how to push the right buttons, wasn’t afraid to get on you where you would not cry and maximized your potential. Always offering to pay for your food and was like a second dad. He is the main reason I went to IHA.”

“Diana Fasano took over and did an amazing job,” Guevarra explained. “She is an incredible woman who led us to many state championships and tournament of champions title. That 2017 championship season, the team had been through hell and back. I’m so proud of what we accomplished together and with Anthony not there for a couple of years, Diana continued the program’s success by recruiting players and adding what she had learned from Anthony.”

“It feels like yesterday that it happened and it was sad because it was over,” Guevarra recalled. “I accomplished so much in those four years with my teammates but knew it was time to move on. It’s always tough being at the top since you have a target on your back, because we made it clear from day one, you have to be on the same page and it’s the triple crown with county, state and TOC in working towards that goal.”

While mulling over a college to attend, Guevarra pointed out the fact her brother attended the University of Connecticut and she would be close to home. Freshman year turned out to be a learning process for Guevarra as the Huskies ended up with a 20-35 record (5-16 in the American Athletic Conference). She struggled at the plate that season, hitting just .203. However, she proved her durability, starting in 50 of the Huskies 53 games and finished with a very respectable .951 fielding percentage.

“A bit of transition and adjustment,” said Guevarra of the college game. “It’s a different playing level compared to high school with the travel schedule we have, time of classes and I was nervous. There is top competition in the AAC, two teams made the NCAA Tournament last year. The stadiums of all the conference teams’ are unbelievable. We had to travel the first nine weeks of this season on the road, getting home at 2 a.m. and go to class the next morning. Being a student-athlete, you have to make academics a priority and go to class and do well because you are just not there for high school.”

In order to prepare for her sophomore season, Guevarra played for the Philippine National Team throughout the summer. The team is hoping to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.

“An amazing experience that prepared me not only for college but international play and made me an overall better player and person,” Guevarra recalled. “To learn the language and culture, it meant a lot because growing up in the states I was really never exposed to my own culture. My mother, brother and Dad’s parents were born in the Philippines and to go there and learn some of the language, culture and customs was amazing. I’m filled with pride to be able to represent my whole country and potentially reach the highest goal which is the Olympics as an amateur athlete.”

“Being able to compete against Australia, Mexico, Canada, team USA and Japan with the best players in the country and world. It definitely heightened my experience and love for the game and appreciation. Being around these players in the same complex was unbelievable, it inspired and motivated me to be a better player.”

Despite UConn’s 16-27 record this season (4-11 in the AAC), Guevarra is enjoying a breakout year hitting .308 with three home runs and 15 RBI. Through 38 games, she has recorded 36 hits and scored 26 runs.

“I got my confidence back and remembered who I was and how well I can play the game,” explained Guevarra. “Last year, I was bit off everywhere, but I knew this season how to get back into my groove and how I was in high school being that crazy, psycho person at the plate and being aggressive and having that confidence. Knowing when I step into that box, it’s me against the pitcher and she is not going to beat me and I’m going to win this at bat.”

“I chose to attend UConn because of head coach Jen McIntyre, she is one of the best people I know. Not only working with us on the field but helping us during games and welcomes us into her office and talks to us about our personal lives and makes sure we are okay and getting it done in the classroom. Her motto is really, so what and it doesn’t matter what year you are and everyone is contributing whether you are on the field or bench.”

“We have gone through our struggles as a team but I just want to be part of that change in the program. There are bad days but we have a great coaching staff and a lot of people support us on campus with a great strength coach, academic advisors and administrative directors and definitely feel a strong sense of community.”

“We’re getting a new stadium next year, we have an equipment manager that gives us all we need whether it be travel gear and uniforms. We have only two seniors and of course we are going to miss them when they’re gone but we have a bunch of freshman, sophomores and juniors that are very successful on and off the field and great people overall.”

“I definitely would not be here without my parents. They have always set me up for success in sending me to IHA and UConn. They are at every home game and try to make it to away games and make time for me with their unconditional love and support. I know they are proud of me and want to do it for them.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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