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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW Summer tournament season comes to an end with several area players finishing strong

By Loren Kopff

SANTEE-What began as a promising start for the Artesia Punishers 14-Under travel softball team managed by Anthony Medina ended with two straight losses in the Amateur Softball Association/United States of America 14-U “A” National Championship. The Punishers roughed up the (San Ramon) Northern California Valley Stompers 9-2 last Friday morning at the Santee Towncenter Park before losing a pair of close games in a span of six hours or so the next day.
Against the Stompers, the Punishers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as third baseman Destinee Alvarez (Lynwood High School) singled and came home on a base hit from right fielder Alyssa Medina (Cerritos High School). The Punishers would get four of their 13 hits in the inning but had two runners thrown out at third base.
The Stompers came back with their two runs in the bottom half of the inning, collecting three hits in the process. But pitcher Alyssa Olague (Whittier High School) settled down and retired seven straight after a run-scoring hit from Natalie Parker and allowed three base runners the remainder of the game. Olague would scatter half a dozen hits and struck out four.
Meanwhile, the offense was just heating up and it began in the third inning. With one out, left fielder Gracie Rose (Maranatha High School) smacked a single to center off of the glove of pitcher Teresa Piazza. Alvarez and Medina both would be safe on a fielder’s choice but a throwing error allowed Rose to tie the game. Then Olague went the opposite way to send a long single down the first base line to plate Alvarez and Medina.
In the fifth, Alvarez, Medina and Olague all had successive singles on a combined four pitches. Two batters later, first baseman Mariah Sheffield (Lakewood High School) was safe on an error which allowed two more runs to come in. One inning later, Rose (four for four) and Alvarez (two for four, four runs scored) would score the final tallies. Olague went three for four and drove in four while Medina went two for four and scored twice.
The scene shifted to the Poway Sportsplex last Friday where the Punishers fell to the (Sarasota, FL) Team Mizuno 5-3, the second time those two teams had met in the tournament. The Punishers were on the losing end of a 5-1 decision to Team Mizuno on July 29 in pool play action. Later in the evening, the Punishers were eliminated by the Chicago-based Orland Park A’s, 7-4.
Elsewhere in the tournament, Gahr High School’s Naomi Dickerson, Alyssa Kumiyama and Malia Quarles and the rest of their Cerritos-based Southern California A’s squad captured the tournament by winning nine of the 10 games they played. The So Cal A’s won their first four games before falling to the Windermere (FL) Wildfire 1-0 last Saturday night. But the team bounced back to win five straight games this past Sunday including a 4-0 revenge game against the Wildfire.
The So Cal A’s, who are the defending state champions, previously won the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championships in 2012 and the ASA Nationals in 2010.
Also in the tournament, the (Fullerton) California A’s team, managed by Brian Iseri, with Celeste Borza (Cerritos High School), Ashley Iseri (Whitney High School) and Jennifer Morinishi (Cerritos High School) went 5-2 to finish in a tie for 13th out of 121 teams.
Another So Cal A’s team, based out of Norwalk and managed by Jonathan Natividad, went 3-2 and finished in a tie for 33rd place. Brianna Lerma (Valley Christian High School) and Destiny Lucero (Cerritos High School) are on that team.
In the PGF National Championships, Heather Cameron (Cerritos High School) led all area players with a .588 average in five games for her Cal A’s team managed by her father, Craig. The catcher had 10 hits, four runs batted in, two runs scored and stole a pair of bases as her team went 4-2 in the Platinum Division and finished tied for ninth out of 80 teams.
Madison Lee (Cerritos High School) and Samantha Lujan (Norwalk High School/University of California, Santa Barbara) and their Lakewood Firecrackers team went 6-2 and finished in a tie for fourth place.

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