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Norwalk 18-U All-Stars make history with championship of state tournament

By Loren Kopff


The up and coming Norwalk Girls Softball Association just added another historic-making event to its small list of success. In its first year of existence, the Norwalk 18-Under All-Star team captured the Amateur Softball Association 18-U ‘B’ State Tournament last weekend in Palmdale.
This is the third straight summer that a NGSA all-star team has advanced to the ASA ‘B’ Western Nationals. Last summer, the 16-U All-Stars won the state tournament and finished in second place in the Western Nationals in Prescott, AZ. This year’s ASA 18 ‘B’ Western Nationals will be held in Turlock Aug. 1-5.
This season’s squad is young with the majority of the girls being 15 and 16-years old with two 17-year old players, one 18 and another 19. Manager Jesse Hernandez added that he lost about five girls from last year’s team and this year’s team is basically rebuilding from a 14-U team.
“A lot of our girls who have played don’t have to plan multiple sports, so they’re not into travel ball,” Hernandez said. “We kept these girls from 8-Under and they stayed together and this is their last year. We wanted to go out one more year as an 18-Under team.
The team got off to a fast start last Friday morning with a 14-0 win over Santa Monica. About 19 hours later, Norwalk edged Rialto 5-3 with the winning runs coming in the seventh inning. Later in the day, Norwalk slammed the Vista Thrillseekers 11-2, a team that has had vast experience in the state tournament.
Norwalk resumed action this past Sunday morning with a 4-3 victory over the San Fernando Valley Xplosion in a game that went into the international tiebreaker. The loss sent the Xplosion to the losers bracket where later in the day, the two teams hooked up again with Norwalk winning in convincing fashion, 13-1. The game was put away in the first inning as Norwalk scored five runs, then added four more runs in the second inning before the game was called in the fourth inning due to the mercy rule.
For the past several months, the first-year team has had to deal with a lot of adversity, beginning with starting two weeks later than the other all-star teams. But once the team got under way, it was looking as if it had been around for years. Norwalk advanced to the championship game of the North Torrance Tournament June 24 before falling to Paramount 9-4.
“Last year, I felt confident because it was our second-year 16s and we already had that one year of experience,” Hernandez said. “We had a great pitching staff last year. This year, just knowing we were going to the state tournament with basically two pitchers-the [Madrigal] sisters, we were really nervous.”
Hernandez added that lot of people were not too supportive of the NGSA adding an 18-U All-Star team. Hernandez said his team had to practice at other sites while the other NGSA All-Star teams practiced at its home base at Los Alisos Middle School.
“We weren’t really welcomed at first,” he stated. “I guess that was the thing that got us going. We wanted to show everybody that we’re here and we have quality players.”
The members of the Norwalk 18-U All-Stars are: Elizabeth Gutierrez, Briana Liera, Natalie Madrigal, Rene Madrigal, Melissa Martinez, Adriana Medrano, Denise Miranda, Brianna Ruiz, Daisy Sandoval, Marissa Taylor and Jessica Wallace. The coaches are Raul Banuelos, Rudy Madrigal and Derek Wallace and the team mom is Laura Taylor.
Also last weekend, the Norwalk 8-U All-Star team won three of its four pool play games. After falling to Charter Oak 2-1 last Friday, the team rebounded for a 7-1 win against Corona last Saturday. This past Sunday, Norwalk edged Temecula 5-4 and knocked off Peninsula 9-1. The Norwalk 8-U All-Stars are: Ashley Benavides, Jolie Cabrera, Cerise Cervantes, Dalilah Garcia, Haylene Gonzalez, Alyvia Hernandez, Leilani Juan, Clarissa Marrujo, Layla Martinez, Gabriela Ortega, Estefania Perez and Malea Ritcharoen. The manager is Mike Ritcharoen and is coaches are Armando Benavides and Ralph Ortega. The team mom is Carol Hernandez.