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Artesia Punishers, CGSA 14-Under squads gearing up for final summer tournaments


By Loren Kopff

With less than a month remaining in the travel ball and recreational softball season, four Artesia Punishers teams are still actively pursuing some type of 2013 championship. In addition, the Cerritos Girls Softball Association’s 14-Under Infinity All-Star team has advanced as far as it can go.

The 18-Under Punishers, coached by Higinio Valdez, are currently competing in the Champions Cup in Irvine and are off to a slow start in pool play action. His team fell to the Lakewood Firecrackers 3-0 and the Fury Softball 12-0 this past Wednesday. The Champions Cup, which is more of a college showcase tournament, runs through Sunday and while there is some hardware to play for, the main reason to play in the Champions Cup is to get noticed by colleges. This is the first time the Punishers are going to the Champions Cup as an 18-Under team.

The Punishers 18-Under team had two more pool play games on July 11 and two more today before the playoff portion begins. Later in the month, the team will play in the Amateur Softball Association ‘A’ Western Nationals in Bakersfield. That will run from July 30-Aug. 4.

The team qualified for Western Nationals by simply participating in the state tournament the weekend of June 21-23 in Beaumont.

“We had a very busy summer like we always do,” Valdez said. “We went out to the (Premier Girls Fastpitch) qualifier and didn’t [qualify for Nationals]. It was what it was. But it was a great experience. Now we’re just prepping ourselves up for the Champions Cup and that will carry us over to Western Nationals.”

The 18-Gold team, coached by Bob Medina, struck out twice in his attempts to send his team to the PGF National Championships. Medina’s squad went 4-2 in the Southern California qualifier the weekend of June 14-16, then recently went 1-2 in the Las Vegas qualifier the last weekend of June.

But the team will be playing four games against the Shanghai National Team, all at East Los Angeles College. The first two games are today with the other two on Sunday afternoon. The team from Shanghai is mostly made up of college level athletes, according to Medina. The games were set up mainly through Medina’s reputation over the years. In the past, Medina has played the Chinese National Team (about 10 years ago at Artesia Park), a team from Alberta, Canada and most recently, a team from Peru, just to name a few.

The 14-Under Artesia Punishers team, coached by Mondo Canizales, will be playing in the Triple Crown Sports Open Western World Series in the Reno, Sparks, Carson City, NV area July 22-27. The team will play a pair of pool play games on the 22nd and two more on the 23rd.

The 12-Under Artesia Punishers, headed by Danny Guerrero, will be very busy the rest of the month. Already, his team is off to a blazing start in the Triple Crown World Series in San Diego. His team won its pool, blasting the (Camarillo) VC Venom 10-2 and blanking the (Chandler) Arizona Storm 5-0 this past Tuesday before getting by the (Chula Vista) MTZ 4-1 and shellacking the (Temecula) So Cal Breakers 13-2 this past Wednesday. The Punishers played their first playoff game on July 11 against either the (Camarillo) Combat Panthers or the San Diego Thunder. The championship game is slated for Saturday evening. Later in the month, Guerrero’s team will be playing in the PGF National Championships. Pool play action (two games) will begin on July 28 with one more on July 29. The double elimination playoffs begin on July 30. His team qualified back in March in the Southern California qualifier in Huntington Beach.

The final Artesia Punishers team to be heading somewhere is the 10-Under team, coached by Sam Dumlao. He will be taking his team to the ASA ‘A’ Western Nationals in Medford, OR, July 29-Aug. 4.

The CGSA 14-Under Infinity All-Stars qualified for the ASA ‘B’ Western Nationals, to be held in Stockton, July 29-Aug. 4 at Arnaiz Park. The team draw will be on July 22 and the Infinity will have two pool play games before moving on to the double elimination playoff portion. The opening ceremonies will be on July 29 at the Klein Family Field on the campus of the University of the Pacific.

Cerritos finished in a tie for ninth place at the state tournament last weekend and was one of 11 teams with a winning record. The Infinity blasted Brea 17-3 last Friday before falling to Pico Fastpitch 5-3 last Saturday morning. Cerritos then eliminated La Habra 16-7 later in the day and qualified for the Western Nationals after crushing San Pedro 13-1. Cerritos was then eliminated by the PQ (Penasquitos) Lightning 6-2 last Saturday night.

This is the fourth time in CGSA history that a team has advanced to the Western Nationals. In 2011, the 10-Under Swag and 14-Under Impact teams advanced past the state tournament and in 2008, the 10-Under Xtreme won its first three playoff games in the Western Nationals before losing consecutive contests. The Xtreme won those three games by a combined 29-0 score and pushed across 49 runs in seven games played in that tournament.