Greensburg Central Catholic’s Marquez plays for late father

Saturday, June 4, 2022 | 4:52 PM

A silver, heart-shaped locket dangles from a necklace Isabela Marquez is wearing.

Every so often, it catches a shaft of sunlight coming through the window in a lonely Greensburg Central Catholic gymnasium as she talks about her late father.

Her voice echoes. Sniffles and sighs are interrupted by little chuckles as memories rush back.

The junior softball player clutches the locket while slowly zipping it back and forth on her chain.

The charm is her most precious and prized possession: It contains her dad’s ashes.

Marquez, a standout catcher for GCC, lost her father, Jim Marquez, to covid-19 on Nov. 28. He was 54.

Her grandmother, Jim’s mother, Nancy, died from the virus two weeks earlier at 76.

“Me and my dad were really close; I want to play for him,” Isabela said. “He helped to teach me the game and worked with me. He taught me to have confidence in myself.”

But that obviously has not been easy for Marquez, who will join her teammates in the PIAA Class A playoffs beginning Monday when the Centurions (13-6) play DuBois Central Catholic (19-2). The game is set for 3 p.m. at Heindl Field in DuBois.

Some people call her “Izzy.” Others know her as “Bella.” But she has always been “Daddy’s Little Girl.”

An only child to Jim and Mary Marquez, Isabela could not visit her father in the hospital, where he was admitted for a short two weeks, a ventilator working overtime to keep him breathing as the family held out hope.

He never came home.

“He got covid the last day of October … I finally saw him when he had the ventilator in, but I couldn’t talk to him,” Isabela said. “I think he knew it was close to the end.

“Everything reminds me of him. He would have wanted me to keep playing, not to stop.”

When GCC played Leechburg in the WPIAL quarterfinals, Centurions coach Mike Gaffney gave Marquez some words of encouragement.

“I told her this was going to be her day,” Gaffney said. “I told her she was going to have a big hit for her dad.”

Marquez delivered, following sophomore teammate Macee McGill’s double with one of her own in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Centurions held off the Blue Devils, 9-8, to advance to the semifinals for the first time in a decade.

“You just try to be there for the girl,” Gaffney said. “Izzy has had a good year for us. There are times when she breaks down, and that is OK. She has been through so much but keeps fighting. She is a great kid, a tough kid. She has become a vocal leader behind the plate.”

Marquez, who has bounced between the No. 2 and 5 spots in the order, is batting .407 with 22 hits, three triples, two home runs, 25 RBIs and 26 runs scored.

She has not been caught stealing in seven tries.

“We wanted to go to states,” Marquez said. “We’re going to go and give all we have.”

A batterymate with standout junior pitcher Emma Henry, Marquez has developed a rapport with her pitcher.

“We knew what to expect from each other,” Marquez said.

Marquez also competes in track and field for the Centurions. Her events include high and triple jumps, 100-meter hurdles and pole vault.

She qualified for the WPIAL championships in the high jump and pole vault.

“I tried to go to both practices when I could,” she said. “I was able to make it work.”

Marquez, a travel player for the Lady Canes of Greensburg, remembers her parents bringing their dog, Simon, a Miniature Schnauzer, to games. She and her mom now have three dogs as they added two Schnauzer puppies.

She feels her family has grown in other ways, too.

“My teammates have been so supportive,” she said. “They have really been there for me.”

Just like dad was.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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