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Santa Clara Sparks Take Off for San Diego 

The Santa Clara Sparks 12U team qualified for the state tournament in San Diego, thanks to a strong battery of pitching and lively bats.

Santa Clara PAL’s 12U Sparks softball squad is off to San Diego this weekend. The girls qualified for the California State Games by finishing fifth out of 20 clubs in the NorCal tournament at Sunnyvale’s Twin Creeks facility two weeks ago. 

In that tournament, the Sparks were one bad inning away from advancing to the championship game, but a top-six finish was all they needed to qualify for the pinnacle tournament of the summer season in San Diego. 

“We have a pretty deep pitching staff,” chimed Sparks Skipper Tom Ostrander on describing his team’s strengths. “We have four pitchers I can throw out there at any time. Two of them are elite, but the improvement of all four has just been tremendous. Our deep pitching staff is what has got us to San Diego.” 


Those four pitchers are Michela Quillinan, Rivera Amarillas, Isabella Castro and Lauren Fiore. According to Ostrander, though, his squad is fully capable of having their bats break out at any moment in a game if needed to win a high-scoring affair. 

“I joked with them last week that they taste blood,” chuckled Ostrander. “There were multiple games at NorCal where we were tied or one run ahead and all of a sudden they would just start stringing hits together and drop 8 or 10 runs in an inning. We scored 40-something runs in our first three games at NorCal while only giving up 9. They can hit, top to bottom. The bottom of the lineup can hit just as well as the top.” 

The Sparks take a roster of 13 down to San Diego where they will take on their toughest competition of the summer. 

“I know we are going to be playing top teams since they all had to qualify,” chimed second baseman Alyssa Collins. “We will have to do our best to make some noise down there.” 

“There’s definitely going to be much harder teams down there than we have faced before,” added Quillinan. “We will see how it goes; it will be fun.” 

Despite its success over the summer, the team exudes a humble attitude as the players prepare to fly down to southern California. 

“We’re good, but there is some stuff we still need to work on,” noted catcher Rose Ostrander. “It’s not completely perfect, but overall it’s fine. We have really good pitching.” 

Will that good pitching travel with the Santa Clara Sparks down to San Diego is the big question. For most of these girls, it will be their first time traveling a significant way to compete in athletics. Coach Ostrander though doesn’t seem too worried about his team’s ability to focus so far away from home.

“I want them to enjoy the experience. What I talked to them a little bit about today is avoiding the distractions,” said Ostrander. “There are going to probably be a few more people in the stands, but at NorCal there were quite a bit of people too. We like the energy of the crowd though, so I think if the crowd is bigger they will be good and feed off of it.”


  1. Andrew Ratermann 11 months ago

    Congratulations to the 12U Sparks team. They worked hard. Participating in the California State Games will be an exciting and memorable experience.
    Let’s also thank the vast number of volunteers throughout the PAL organization, certainly, Tom Ostrander and his coaches, but all the coaches, volunteers, and supporters who selflessly make these opportunities available to our youth.

  2. Maria Rivera 11 months ago

    Congratulations to the 12U sparks team. Our family feel privilege to be part of this tremendous experience, thanks to all the coaches who volunteer to make this possible and awesome job to the girls who work really hard to qualified!

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