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Newest Artesia Punishers team taking different approach this summer

SURF CITY SUMMER KICKOFF

By Loren Kopff

ANAHEIM-The Artesia Punishers travel softball program has a new 18-Under team that has played in just a few showcase tournaments thus far. But unlike other travel teams, this one will not be playing for any type of trophy or tournament championship at the end of July or early August.

And that’s fine with manager Dave Lindsay, the newest member to the Punishers family. Lindsay recently completed the Surf City Summer Kickoff, losing all three pool play games last Saturday afternoon at Artesia Park before winning a pair of games last Sunday at Peralta Park

“We know we played tough teams yesterday because we’ve played them in the past,” Lindsay said following the first game this past Sunday morning. “They’re really, really good. But it didn’t matter because we had colleges there. So we don’t care [about winning or
losing], especially in pool play, even though this was a tournament. We don’t care because we want kids to get looked at, which we had yesterday.”

Lindsay, whose team is based out of Mira Loma, has had this squad for five years but under two other names-the 12-Under Heaters for three years, then the Quakes. He said he had four players looked at by Whittier College and Chapman University last Saturday.

The tournament began with losses to the (Foothill Ranch) Orange County Batbusters-Briggs, San Diego Renegades and (Riverside) Explosion-Greg. Then this past Sunday, the Punishers edged the (Concord) Lady Hawks 5-4 as third baseman Brianna Bernal (Eleanor Roosevelt High School) launched a game-winning solo home run to the right field gap leading off the bottom of the fifth inning.

The Lady Hawks, who were crushed by the Artesia Punishers 18 Gold team 16-1 last Saturday, grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Madi Pozzi and a double from Elvia Alvarado. But the Punishers tied the game in their half of the inning, which began with a double from shortstop Linnah Rebolledo (Ramona High School) and a triple from center fielder Jaylene Huicochea (Ontario High School). On the next pitch, second baseman Nikki Dykes (Santiago High School) reached on a fielder’s choice and later came home on an error.

The Lady Hawks regained a two-run lead again in the third on Pozzi’s two-run home run to the right field gap. But the Punishers tied the game with a pair of runs in the fourth. With two outs and left fielder Alexsis Rebolledo (Ramona High School) on second after a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch, catcher Kim Evans (Upland High School) singled to left That was followed by a sharp single down the left field line off of Pozzi’s glove from designated player Jessica Whittaker (M.L. King High School), bring home Alexsis Rebolledo. Then with the bases loaded, Huicochea’s base hit to right field tied the game.

Bernal, Evans and Huicochea all picked up a pair of hits. Alex Alvarez (Ramona High School) pitched the first two innings before Alyssa Estrada (Roosevelt High School) worked the next three frames and got the win. Erin Alexander (Roosevelt High School) picked up the save.

The Punishers would then crush the (Clovis) Central Cal Destroyers 11-1 before falling to the (Lodi) California Grapettes 11-0. All games this past Sunday at Peralta Park involved teams that had finished in last place in their respective pools.

Lindsay, who has over 22 years of being a premier pitching coach, said that next summer, his team will participate in Premier Girls Fastpitch qualifying tournaments. But this summer, his team isn’t quite ready to challenge for a national championship.

“We have two pitchers who are reconstructing their pitches,” Lindsay said. “So we’re fine-tuning this. Our only goal would be PGF; that would be what we would do this year. We know that it would be a waste of money because…we’re not going to go [to a qualifying] tournament if we can’t qualify [for nationals]. Our team might be ready by then but our pitching is not quite there yet.”