By Leanna Einbinder
Two Santa Monica girls softball teams took home high honors last weekend at the ASA National Championships.
The 16U Santa Monica Patriots took home the top prize, winning their national championship in Gillette, Wyoming. The Patriots beat teams from California, Colorado and Wyoming to place first and win the coveted national championship in the ASA Western National Softball Tournament.
“I could not be more proud of these girls,” said the team’s head coach Antonio Temblador Jr. “They came together at exactly the right time. Our pitchers (Paulette Ely (who dominated in both the semi-final and championship games), Haley Beaven, and Amanda Gonzalez) kept us in every game. All of the hard work and countless hours of batting practice paid off, scoring 68 runs in bracket play.”
He went on to explain that the team had previously lost to rivals El Segundo in both the ASA State tournament last month and in the opening rounds of the National tournament.
Then they learned that they’d be facing El Segundo again in the semi-final round of the National Championships; but this time was different.
“I asked the girls to play with their hearts, to believe in one another, play their game and leave it all on the field,” said Coach Temblador. “And in that semi-final round, they never gave up. They overcame a 4-6 deficit in the last inning, with two outs, to tie the game, and they eventually won 9-6 in international tiebreaker innings. In the championship game (also against El Segundo), the girls came out with an entirely different attitude, they believed they could win. And they did.”
This is the first national title won by a Santa Monica girls softball team in more than 10 years.
The same weekend, the Santa Monica 12U Gold All-Star team battled the top 43 softball teams throughout the Western Region to ultimately place 5th in their ASA Western National Tournament held in Roseville, California.
“Placing fifth in a national ASA tournament at this level is an incredible accomplishment,” said the team’s head coach, and current Santa Monica Girls Fastpitch president, Jared Breuer. “This team faced the best teams from the 12-State Western Region, which includes teams from Hawaii to Alaska, from Montana to Arizona – not to mention the incredibly competitive teams right here in Southern California,” continued Coach Breuer. “Over a thousand teams in our Division competed to get to Nationals, and our team placed fifth. They won four games back-to-back on Saturday alone. I could not be more proud of them.”
Moreover, the 12U team set League records: they had the best finish in Santa Monica Girls Fastpitch (SMGF) history for a team in the 8U through 14U Divisions, and they won more games at Nationals than any other SMGF team before them.
Two of the team’s players also won individual awards: Kendall Kelly took home second place for throwing accuracy, and Fiona McCabe placed second in pitching velocity in the individual skills competition.
Registration for Santa Monica girls softball is open for all Divisions, go to the Santa Monica Girls Fastpitch website www.santamonicagirlssoftball.org.