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ZOOM INTO JUNE TOURNAMENT: Artesia Punishers, area players noticed in summer’s first major showcase tournament

By Loren Kopff


HEMET-The Inland Empire was home to hundreds of college coaches and thousands of softball players who participated in the Triple Crown Sports Zoom Into June tournament last weekend. While there were no trophies to be handed out, it was more of an initial job interview of sorts for those players who have not committed to a college yet.

On hand at Diamond Valley Park were the 18-Under and 18 Gold teams including the Punishers Gold team managed by Bob Medina. Nine of his players have already signed or verbally committed to their respective colleges and the team went 1-3-1 in what some can perceive as a tune-up for the upcoming Premier Girls Fastpitch Southern California qualifier. The lone win came against the (Glendale) AZ Firecrackers, a 7-5 conquest last Saturday afternoon.

The Punishers had a 4-0 lead after two innings before the Firecrackers tied the game in the top of the third. But in the bottom half of the inning and with the bases loaded, Alissa Cienfuegos (Carson High School) grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Monica Rodriguez (Banning High School, Notre Dame de Namur University). On the next pitch, Leah Gonzales (Banning High School) came home on a groundout from Jessica Delgado (El Rancho High School). The last run for the Punishers came in the sixth when Jasmine Higa (Apple Valley High School, Monmouth University) singled to plate Logan Miller (Lakewood High School).

The Punishers, who will play host to the Surf City Summer Kickoff tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Artesia Park, lost once and tied once this past Sunday, scoring one run in the process.

The Artesia Punishers 18-Under team managed by Dave Lindsay was playing at the Big League Dreams Sports Park in Cathedral City and went 3-2, blanking the (Clinton, Utah) Attitude Roadrunners 6-0 last Saturday and defeating the (West Covina) Case Batbusters 7-1 and Corona Xpress 8-6 this past Sunday. Lindsay’s team will also be at Artesia Park this weekend.

The Big League Dreams Sports Park in Mira Loma was home to the Artesia Punishers 16-Under team managed by Armando Canizales where it went 4-0-1. The team didn’t play its first game until late last Saturday afternoon but when it did, it had no problems with the Clovis Rockets in a 7-2 win. Amanda Canizales (Whittier High School) went three for three with a pair of doubles. The Punishers put the game away in the fifth inning with six runs.

Following that game, the Punishers rallied from a seven-run deficit to tie The (San Diego) Factory 7-7 with a late inning rally as time was expiring. Trailing 7-3 in the bottom of the sixth with two outs, Nikki Aldecoa (Bishop Amat High School), Faith Flores (La Habra High School) and Amanda Canizales all singled before Alexis Lopez (Los Osos High School) doubled to the right field corner to bring home all three runners. John Glenn’s Ashley Armas then doubled to bring home Lopez for the tying run.

The night ended with an 8-2 win over the (Sylmar) Valley Breeze as Amanda Canizales, Melissa Corona (Gahr High School) and Aldecoa all going two for three with two runs scored. The next morning, the Punishers got by the (Rio Linda) NorCal Bandits 5-2 before blasting the (Upland) American Pastime 15-0 as all 16 on the team recorded at least one hit. Armas went the distance, striking out five and walking no one.

The Artesia Punishers 14-Under team, guided by Danny Guerrero, was at the Big League Dreams Sports Park in Perris and won three of its five games played. After edging the (Phoenix) AZ HotShots Elite 5-4 last Friday night, the team routed the (Simi Valley) So Cal Athletics 8-2 last Saturday morning. Later in the afternoon, University of Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso was one of many coaches in attendance and witnessed the Punishers double up the (La Habra) Firecrackers 4-2. The weekend ended with a 5-2 loss to the (San Diego) Power Surge and a 9-6 setback to the (Long Beach) USA Athletics.

Guerrero’s team, which recently went 1-2 in the PGF Las Vegas National Qualifier, will participate in the Surf City Summer Kickoff with its games to be played at Yorba Regional Park in Anaheim on Saturday and Sunday.

Elsewhere in the Zoom Into June tournament, Gahr High School’s Brianna Besenty (Hope International University), Dejanae Davis, Deidra Genera (Bethune-Cookman University) and Valley Christian High School’s Madison Wright (Simpson University) played for the (Downey) Nemesis Elite 18 Gold team that went 1-4. The lone win came early this past Saturday morning when Wright had a double and single and drove in a run and Davis walked, stole second and scored a first inning run as the Nemesis posted a 6-2 victory over the (Stockton) RR Gold.

For the weekend, Besenty and Wright each batted .364 while Davis pounded out 13 hits. In the circle, Genera had an earned run average of 1.21.

The Cerritos-based Cal A’s 18-Under White team, with Cerritos High School’s Heather Cameron and Jennifer Iseri, both going to the University of Hawai’i and Norwalk High School’s Jazmin Guzman went 4-0-1 while the Cal A’s 16-Under team from La Palma, which has Cerritos High School’s Celeste Borza (University of Texas, San Antonio) and Jennifer Morinishi, John Glenn High School’s Erika Espinoza (Hope International University) and Whitney High School’s Ashley Iseri went 3-2.