The Santa Clara Police Activities League (PAL) 12-and-under All Star Tournament team is once again having a tremendous summer.
This year’s PAL All Star softball squad finished third at the Northern California State Qualifying tournament at Sunnyvale’s Twin Creeks, earning them a spot in this weekend’s California State Games in San Diego. The forecast for the tournament calls for sunny skies and high 70s, a far cry from last year’s state tournament in Roseville where temperatures were in the triple digits.
The Sparks finished up their final practice preparations on Tuesday and are ready to take on the top teams in the state.
“We have two great catchers and three great pitchers, it’s really a great group of girls, I don’t really have to do much,” praised Head Coach Yih-Woei Saw. “And winning our most recent tournament is a huge stepping stone going into San Diego. These girls played lights out, they didn’t come with an attitude knowing they were better than anyone else, they came in knowing they needed to work and wanting to win and they played like champions. That’s definitely big momentum we can carry into San Diego.”
The Sparks have a handful of girls who returned to the team this summer from last year’s team and the overwhelming consensus is that team camaraderie has been a key to their success this summer.
“We’re definitely even closer than we were last year,” noted pitcher Sophia Orozco. “We all have a special bond together.”
“Most of us have gone to school together and have known each other from past levels of softball,” added corner infielder Cece De Courcy. “We all go way back.”
“I feel like we’ve all bonded together in between games and we protect each other on the field,” echoed Aniyah Padilla. “We all need each other and lean on each other.”
“If I strikeout or weren’t doing well, no matter how mad I get at myself, my teammates always make me feel better and always pick me up, literally,” joked Olivia Vasquez, one of the smaller statured players on the team.
“We have all had a game or two where we get down on ourselves,” admitted Kaylee Stone. “But when we all are able to stay upbeat, that is usually when we play our best.”
Overall the Sparks have finished first once, second once and third three times in their five tournaments thus far this summer. The girls say that they have thoroughly enjoyed playing for Coach Saw, who is known for keeping the dugout loose with his humor.
“He’s funny, he’s a good coach and works hard with us, but he’s funny when we get mad, he will make a joke,” chimed Keira Brady. “That helps us cool off and relax.”
“He really likes to make people laugh,” added Tori Farnham. “He’s really funny, but really hard working at the same time.”
There will be 25 teams competing in the 12-and-under division at the CA State games in San Diego. Last year the Sparks finished in the top-12 out of 38 teams in their final tournament in Roseville. Check back next week to see how high the Sparks fly this time around.