When San Pedro High softball took a 2-1 lead against crosstown neighbor Port Of Los Angeles on a bases-loaded double by Johnie Cortez in the bottom of the fourth inning in an El Segundo Tournament quarterfinal, the Pirates were looking for more.
Freshman designated player Andrea Cline was the only one left to score and she came chugging hard from first base to add to San Pedro's slim advantage, but as POLA junior second baseman Rosemary Garcia received the cutoff throw from senior right fielder Sarah Maldonado, Garcia knew exactly where to throw the ball to next. The obvious place to go is home plate in that situation, but the one blocking the plate isn't just an ordinary catcher.
Meet the 'Polar Bear Enforcer'... junior catcher Savana Ramirez.
Garcia's throw was right on the money, and Ramirez, almost with a certain scowl, received the throw and perfectly blocked Cline from scoring, saving a potential third run. Ramirez has been that kind of presence for the Polar Bears in each of the last two seasons.
"Every catcher takes someone crossing the plate personally because it is their territory," says Ramirez of her collision with Cline in POLA's eventual 4-2 victory over San Pedro on April 26. "And that's how I feel."
Ramirez, an All CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I honorable mention choice this past season, has been one of POLA's most effective contributors, and she has been truly incredible since coming over for her sophomore year by way of transferring from West Torrance High. Savana is 3-1 against the Warriors in the last two years.
In her lone year at West in 2012, Ramirez batted .263 with 15 hits, 6 RBIs and 4 runs scored in 21 games, but decided to make the move to POLA for her sophomore year in 2013.
"I was very excited and impressed with the team and coaching staff," said Ramirez as to why she made the move. "it was a difference and I'm happy that I made the choice to move now."
POLA glad she did as well.
In her first year with the Polar Bears, Ramirez batted .443 with two home runs, 36 RBIs, seven doubles, a pair of triples, and she even set a school single-season record with 47 hits. Ramirez may have committed four errors, but opposing teams dared to try and steal on her, as Ramirez had a 50% rate (1-for-2) in catching runners stealing.
Of course, Ramirez started at third base her first year considering she backed up former three-time City Section champion Brianna Grayson, who's now at Dickinson State University (Dickinson, North Dakota).
"I think Savana is a very tremendous athlete," POLA coach Melissa Bugarin-Espinoza says. "One of her strengths is she frames well and she does a pretty darn good job blocking. She has been asked to play a role as a utility player and when Brianna Grayson graduated, Savana worked very hard to fill that spot."
The final game of 2013 was Savana's coming out party as she went 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and 4 RBIs in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division III championship game against Northridge Academy, where the Polar Bears rolled to a convincing 16-3 victory over the previously-unbeaten Pumas.
"Honestly, I was very proud of myself for being able to hit and drive in runs," Ramirez said in a matter-of-fact fashion."
Ramirez's junior year was finally her time to showcase her true talent behind the plate, and with the Polar Bears stepping up into the Division I realm where the competition loomed large, she also stepped up her game considerably as the starting catcher. Ramirez also grew closer with her battery-mate, fellow junior pitcher Nicolle Miranda.
The collaboration they showed by pointing at each other after every pitch thrown was telling to everyone watching a Polar Bear softball game.
"I don't know exactly when we began motivating each other but it has been since the beginning of the season," Miranda says of the pointing trade-off with Ramirez. "We do it to show each other that we got one another's back, to trust in each other. It also helps build the energy with our team."
Moving back to her normal spot behind the plate from the infield may have affected Ramirez's hitting a tad, but she still hit a solid .402 with two home runs, 20 RBIs, 35 hits and 4 doubles.
Ramirez was rock solid defensively as she was error free, catching seven runners stealing in 18 attempts (.389 caught stealing percentage), even turning a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play with Miranda against Edison of Huntington Beach on March 12.
"It is very fun catching Nicolle," Ramirez says. "She is an amazing pitcher who gets the job done. I know that she will always have my back and I will have hers."
POLA winning the Redondo Tournament Gold Division championship over Warren of Downey on March 7, and the 11-0 blowout win over San Pedro at Harbor College on April 24 are the two games Ramirez points to as her favorite games of her junior year, especially in the way she collaborated with Miranda.
"She and Nikki became a very good battery for us," Bugarin-Espinoza said. "I never had a doubt. Savana is quick, has a strong arm, and did very well communicating and reading Nicolle."
Ramirez is interested and being looked at by five colleges, Indiana Tech, Holy Names (Oakland, California), Cedar Crest (Allentown, Pennsylvania), Saint Katherine (Encinitas, California) and Arizona Christian University.
With all but four players returning, the Polar Bears will no doubt look to build off their 30-8 season where they won their fourth straight Crosstown League title and came within a heartbeat of eliminating eventual two-time defending City champion Carson in a tough 2-0 semifinal loss on May 29. With Miranda and POLA's 'enforcer' being two of the returners, don't expect anyone trying to pull a fast one on Ramirez any time soon.
"I think that we can go far," Ramirez says on her chances of helping POLA win another City title. "We still have a strong team and we know what we are going to be facing next year. We are going to work hard."