■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Things at Diamond Valley Lake Sports Complex certainly heated up the weekend of June 17: a total of 62 teams came to visit to play in the Premier Girls Fastpitch SoCal National Qualifiers. The teams came from all over California, including a few from arid Arizona.
Coinciding with the 18-and-under teams visiting our valley – hopefully dining and shopping here after the game – were the 16 and under teams in Irvine, 14 and under in Menifee as well as Hemet, and the 12 and under girls in Anaheim. At any time as many as eight games were played, requiring every diamond at DVL.
Coordinating the dozens of young teams at DVL was PGF Representative Ernie Lievanos: “A lot of competition out here, all the teams are equal. We always have excitement around here.”
These girls played their hearts out for two days, and here’s how they did.
Premier Berths went to Firecrackers AZ, Explosion, Firecrackers Redmond and NorCal Firecrackers. Firecrackers AZ Coach Randy Kaye said he was super proud of his girls, and that for them, it was all about focus.
“I feel we have a chance to compete with anyone when we have the team first mindset. We are hoping to compete late into the week at PGF and represent FC-AZ well,” said Kaye.
Local Riverside team Explosion won eight straight out of losers bracket to win Premier Berth. Explosion Coach Brian Jacobson summed up their do-or-die efforts: “Grit, hard work, and a lot of heart! These girls never gave up, they kept fighting!” stated Jacobson. “Our pitchers were relentless! They pitched four shutouts in low scoring games, and only gave up three. Without them doing what they did it’s a whole different story!”
Jacobson said that while they have been struggling to put runs together, they managed to get the job done.
“The girls put the sac bunts down, hit to the right side when they needed to, and got the key hits at the right times. They are finally starting to believe in the process and battle,” said Jacobson. “This group is definitely becoming a cohesive unit and I believe will be a force at nationals –you will see how strong our hitters are as we get closer to PGF and what they can really do. Most importantly we took it one pitch at a time and never got ahead of ourselves and that is how we will approach every game from here on out!”
Platinum Berths were scored by Corona Angels, Cal Cruisers AE, All American Sports Academy and So Cal Breakers.
Congratulations belong to these girls, who will now move on to the Nationals in late July and early August.