The 2018 season for girls’ softball was memorable for both the U-12 and U-10 Santa Clara teams. As reported last week, the Sparks U-12 are now the 2018 California State Games Champions.
The U-10 team also earned some bragging rights. According to the U-10 Coach Todd Kleinheinz, “This was the farthest in Santa Clara PAL history a team has gotten in 30 years.” While the U-10 team didn’t win it all, Kleinheinz added, “This is the first time they’ve placed in the top five and they were the only Northern California team to make it to the round of eight. This is a big accomplishment for the girls.”
What makes the U-10’s record even more remarkable is the makeup of the team.
“All of the girls are nine or 10 years old and, as the girls transition, one-half [of the team] move up to the U-12 team. This year, we only had two girls return, so we had 11 brand new girls who hardly had any experience on the team,” Kleinheinz explained.
The road to San Diego wasn’t easy as the U-10 team first had to get through the Northern California Tournament at Twin Creeks that saw 28 teams compete.
“You have to finish in the top eight to qualify to go to the CSG and they finished second at the tournament. It was pretty exciting,” Kleinheinz said. “Three or four of the games were won in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the last inning. Another nugget is most of the teams in San Diego are made up of older girls — we had one of the youngest teams — about half of our team was made up of 9 year olds including our starting 3rd baseman and shortstop.”