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Cerritos Kaos 12-Under All-Stars go wire to wire in district tournament

ASA LOS ANGELES/SOUTH BAY “B” DISTRICT TOURNAMENT

By Loren Kopff

DOWNEY-The bats came alive for the Cerritos Kaos 12-Under All-Star team this past Sunday in the Amateur Softball Association Los Angeles/South Bay “B” District Tournament, and the final result means another trip to the state tournament. Cerritos blasted Long Beach Heartwell 11-5 in the championship game to complete an undefeated tournament that saw the team score 51 runs.

Cerritos got to the finals after scoring six runs in the bottom of the fourth to edge Long Beach Heartwell 11-10 earlier in the morning. Then in the championship game, the Kaos broke the game wide open with six runs in the top of the second inning. Catcher Natalie Luna, third baseman Dalia Morones and center fielder Julia Enzmann all had run scoring singles while two other runs were forced in by walks issued to pitcher Valerie Joaquin and designated player Brooklyn Bedolla.

Enzmann and Luna each went three for four while first baseman Brenda Duran, second baseman Kara Spoolstra and Morones all added two hits. Luna and Spoolstra each drove in three runs while Joaquin went the distance, giving up eight hits and striking out three.

The Kaos became the first Cerritos Girls Softball Association all-star team to go through the district tournament undefeated since 2008 when the 10-Under Gold team posted three shutouts and allowed nine runs in five games. That team knocked off host La Mirada twice on the final day. This is also the ninth straight summer that the CGSA has been represented in the state tournament by at least one team.

But earlier in the month, it didn’t look too promising for the Kaos. The team had a winning record in just one of the four tournaments it played in prior to last weekend and went winless in four playoff games after going a combined 5-4 in pool play action. But the team bounced back when it needed to and tormented opposing pitching in the district tournament.

“It’s really nothing that either I or the coaches have changed,” said manager Sal Bedolla. “It’s all on the girls. The girls just came with their heads ready from the very beginning. I think they all decided that they all wanted this district championship. They had to come out and show it because the talent that we have on this team didn’t show before this weekend.”

The defining moment this past Sunday came in the first game against Long Beach Heartwell. Cerritos trailed 6-0 after half an inning but got back in the game with four runs as right fielder Caitlyn Azevedo, Joaquin and Enzmann had run scoring hits. Then with Cerritos trailing 10-5 heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Kaos put on a hit parade. Luna, Duran and Azevedo all had hits, the last two of the infield type, to load the bases. Morones was then safe on a fielder’s choice before Joaquin followed with a run scoring hit and Enzmann drove in two runs with another single.

Later in the inning and with the bases loaded again, Duran, known for being a power hitter as she has hit four home runs this summer, provided the knockout punch with a lazy flare to shallow right to plate Spoolstra for the game winner.

“What a hit for her; a little dinker,” Sal Bedolla said. “She’s been hitting some shots the whole weekend and just to have her have that little hit is priceless in my opinion. With her coming up, we knew we had to make up a few runs, still. But we knew we had the heart of order and they’ve been carrying us all weekend.”

“My coaches were telling me to ‘calm down and don’t think you’re going to hit a home run’,” Duran said. “They were telling me to be smart, and I was. The first [pitch] was a ball and I looked at the catcher to know if it was inside or outside. It was outside so then I just hit it to the right.”

Duran went three for four while Azevedo and Enzmann each went three for three as the team collected 13 hits. Joaquin scattered seven hits but three came after the first inning. All 10 runs scored off of Joaquin were unearned.

The Kaos began the tournament with a come from behind 10-7 win over Los Altos last Friday afternoon. Cerritos was up 6-1 but Los Altos scored six runs in the bottom of the third to take a 7-6 lead. In the top of the fourth with two outs, Spoolstra and Luna each scored on errors and Morones drove in a pair of runs. That came an inning after Duran and Morones each smacked solo home runs.

“We love to bat first,” Sal Bedolla said. “Obviously there are disadvantages to batting first. But when we bat first, we told them you have to get out there and attack right from the get go and get at least one [run].”

Later in the day, Cerritos posted a 13-8 win over Palos Verdes and stayed in the winner’s bracket with a 6-1 win over Santa Monica last Saturday afternoon.

“We’re really happy that we’re going back [to the state tournament] because we get to have a lot of fun and our parade is going to be fun,” Duran said.

The Kaos entered last weekend having scored 58 runs in 13 games and had a pair of heartbreaking one-run playoff losses to Goleta in the San Dieguito Memorial Day Tournament and to Westlake/Agoura in the West Valley Tournament. But with its performance last weekend, the Kaos became the CGSA’s fifth different 12-Under all-star team to advance to the state tournament.

“In the beginning we didn’t really bond together,” Duran said. “Towards the end, we went to pizza places and had a lot of fun and played all of the games. We finally started to bond a lot and then our whole team got together to play [well in] districts.”

“I think maybe the pressure got to them a little bit,” Sal Bedolla said of the team not winning a playoff game. “They were squeezing the bat a little bit more. They weren’t hitting as great as they were.”

Gemma Bulthuis, Essence Gibbs and Destiny Ramos are the other members of the team.

The Cerritos 10-Under Bam What all-star team went two and out in this double elimination tournament, falling to Downey 5-4 last Friday evening and 7-1 to Palos Verdes last Saturday afternoon. The team finishes the summer with a 3-8-2 record and played in three tournaments prior to the district tournament.

“With any all-star team, when you don’t have experience in that age group, it’s a lot of work,” said manager Pom Garcia said. “From one year to the next, experience makes a difference. We had a lot of girls who had never played all-stars on this team and then we had a lot of girls who were first-year 10-U on this team. In a whole, I think they played a great summer for not having the experience.”

The lone run against Palos Verdes came in the bottom of the second when Samiya Jones led off with a double, stole third and came home on another stolen base. Cerritos had five hits but also committed five errors.

Against Downey, Azalea Herrera led off the top of the first with a walk and came home on a groundout from Jones. Two innings later, Cerritos took a 3-1 lead on singles from Sarah Gutierrez and Jones and a one-out triple from Kristalyn Romulo.

After Downey scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth, Cerritos scored its final run in the sixth when Piper Garcia doubled, moved to third on a base hit from Elizabeth Lara and scored on a single from Herrera.

“Yesterday was a tough loss but that was the toughest team,” Pom Garcia said. “They’ve already qualified for [the state tournament]. We played really hard last night but today was just tougher.”

She admitted that she pushed this team extremely hard this summer, harder than she has pushed other teams and that may have led to the team winning just three games. The inexperience also played a big factor as there were four first-time all-stars and five first-year all-stars out of the 12-member squad. Only Herrera, Lara and Maya Cisneros were 10-Under all-stars last summer.

Chelsea Azevedo, Paola Enciso, Erin Gibbs, Adriana Portillo and Makayla Sur are the other members of the Bam What.

The 8-Under Dynamite all-stars began the tournament with a 2-1 win over La Mirada last Friday evening. But Cerritos dropped an 8-0 decision to Norwalk and was eliminated by Long Beach Heartwell 7-1 last Saturday. The team went 8-11 this summer and lost nine of its last 11 games played. All 12 players on the team were first-year 8-Under all-stars. The members of the Dynamite were: Alyssa Aguilar, Bella Bulthuis, Marley Cortez, Amarie Encarnacion, Ashley McCart, Alea Medina, Alexis Montez, Natalie Sanchez, Danica Stavale, Lily Roth, Makayla Vanosse and Madison Wright. The manager was Brian Bulthuis.