Hanford West Softball remembers Marissa Cardona

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The softball season was just getting started, and so was 14-year-old freshman Marissa Cardona. Over the weekend, she and her mother were headed to Clovis for a softball tournament with her Hanford West High School team.

It was at Mt. Whitney and Cedar Avenues that another car headed to Clovis failed to stop at a stop sign and struck Marissa and her mom's vehicle.

The mother and teenager in the other car, and Marissa's mother Leticia were all rushed to the hospital with major injuries. Marissa didn't survive.

Coaches say they knew something was terribly wrong that morning because Marissa and her family were never late. Then they got the call about the crash.

"We immediately got in our cars and trucks and started making our way to the hospital," said Frank Hernandez, Hanford West High School Softball Coach.

That's where they learned the news Marissa was gone.

"Half the team was sitting there right in the parking lot of the emergency room," he said. "I think the hardest thing was explaining the why. I think that was the hardest part of it all."

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Wednesday night, there was a massive display of support under the lights and on the diamond. Marissa's family and her second family, the softball community, gathered in prayer, song and to share their memories.

"The support in the softball community comes together, and it comes together strong," said Marco Vasquez.

Vasquez coached Marissa for years through the Dirt Dogs Softball Organization and most recently on the Hanford West High School team.

"If you want to talk about a player that every coach wants, she was that," he said.

Surrounded by candlelight, teammate after teammate stepped up and fought back tears to share their love for Marissa.

"I told her how proud I was of her and that I would always have her back," said one player.

"Everything that I do is dedicated to her," vowed another teammate.

"I couldn't believe my best friend was gone," one of the teens recalled of the day she passed.

The Hanford West softball team will be back out on their home field Thursday with a little piece of Marissa painted onto the field -- her nickname and jersey number. Marissa's dad encouraged the girls before their game.

"Just do it for her because that's what she would do for you guys," said her father, Rocky.

Thursday, the softball community will continue to honor Marissa at the home game. The entry fee will be waived for anyone who wants to attend. A taco dinner fundraiser will be hosted at Tilted Athletic Facility to help her family with funeral expenses.

Donations are also being collected through the following Cash App and Venmo accounts:

CashApp: $DirtDogsVazquez
Venmo: @Rocky-Cardona
Venmo: @Dirtdogs-Vazquez

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