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East Union outfielder signs with NCAA Division-III Redlands
With her mom Deborah looking on, East Union High senior Marissa Romero signs her letter of intent to compete for the University of Redlands softball team Thursday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

It’s a story East Union senior Marissa Romero hears too often, one that makes her shake her head and roll her eyes.

Her softball coaches at the school won’t ever let her forget it.

As a freshman, she told varsity head coach Brian Goulart and assistant Randy Friend that she aims to be a right-handed hitting catcher. Problem: A 6-foot slugging backstop named Brittany LaMar was in the third season of a decorated four-year career.

On Thursday, Romero signed with University of Redlands as a left-handed, slap-hitting outfielder.

“It was definitely for my own good,” Romero said Thursday moments before putting pen to paper at the East Union library.

Romero committed back on Nov. 21 and said she feels “a weight has been lifted” since. The Southern California school, a 15-minute drive from Riverside, is an NCAA Division-III university and is not allowed to hand out athletic scholarships, but will receive help through academic achievements.

She will join a successful program that has won eight straight Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles under head coach Laurie Nevarez, who played on an NCAA Division-I championship squad for UCLA in the late 90s.

“That wasn’t a (priority) for me,” Romero said of the team’s winning tradition. “I wanted to go to a smaller school where I can get my degree (in education). School was my main focus, and getting to play softball at the same time is a bonus. I’m not going mainly for softball, and that’s something their coach stresses, too.”

Romero added that she relates well with Nevarez, who also switched to lefty late in her playing career.

“She’s excited to see what I can do for her team,” said Romero, who hit .344 for East Union last season. “I sent a highlight video and they responded quickly. She liked that I’m a slapper and she liked my outfield technique.”