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1ST ANNUAL DANNY WECHSLER TOURNAMENT: CGSA All-Stars wrap up final tournament before districts

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

CHINO HILLS-In less than a month, the four Cerritos Girls Softball Association All-Star teams have played in four tournaments, preparing for what lies ahead this weekend-the Amateur Softball Association Los Angeles/South Bay ‘B’ District Tournament. In the 1st Annual Danny Wechsler Tournament held at Chino Hills Community Park, the four teams combined to win six of the 14 games played with a pair of teams winning a playoff game.

The 14-Under all-stars, who have been the most consistent team the past month, knocked off Temecula Valley 7-3 and tied Aliso Viejo 1-1 in pool play action. The team then blasted Orange Crest 11-3 this past Sunday despite getting five hits from five different players. But the squad was aided by 10 walks.

First baseman Dy’mond Larkin-Manzo doubled on the third pitch in the bottom of the first inning, then scored when left fielder Isabella Gonzalez was issued the third straight walk. That was followed by a walk to right fielder Adrina Urias, which allowed third baseman Alexa Diaz to come home.

Shortstop Isabel Navarro was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded as pitcher Caitlyn Azevedo made it 3-0. Urias then came home on a wild pitch and a walk issued to Larkin-Manzo brought home Navarro to make it 5-0. The final tally of the inning was a Diaz single, which scored second baseman Chelsea Azevedo.

In the next inning, Navarro singled and later came home on a stolen base. The team wrapped up the blowout with four runs in the third inning, highlighted by a triple from Caitlyn Azevedo, allowing Diaz to come home. Lesley Perez and Sarah Ochoa would also score on wild pitches. Caitlyn Azevedo also struck out six in 17 batters that she faced.

The team would then fall to Santee, 7-1, to wrap up the pre-district portion of the summer at 8-5-3. The 14-Under all-stars will face Torrance on Saturday morning in the first round of the district tournament.

The 10-Under all-stars happen to be the hottest team, winning seven of their last 11 games. In pool play action, the team defeated Orange Crest 3-1 and Rancho ACE 1-0 before getting past Temecula Valley 5-2 in the first round of the playoffs this past Sunday.

“Our team has peaked week after week,” said manager Anthony Medina. “These girls fight until the end. That’s special. I believe that’s hard to coach unless you have the right coaches and staff that can get them to believe. We’ve done a great job so far and it shows every week.”

Catcher Natalia Hill got things started in the bottom of the first when she reached on an error and later scored on an error. First baseman Kylee Manibusan would make it 2-0 when she reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a passed ball. After its lead was cut in half, in the next inning, Hill scored on another error to make it 3-1.

Cerritos would ice the game on this very hot day in the third when designated player Luna Villa and center fielder Vanessa Soto each reached on an error and came home on errors. The squad would then fall to a tough Aliso Viejo team 10-3. After falling behind early, Cerritos scored all three runs to make it a 4-3 contest.

“This past weekend was a great test for us going into districts [this] weekend,” Medina said. “I think week by week thus far has been nothing but improvements. Whether we win or lose in these tournaments isn’t a concern as long as we continue to improve.”

The 10-Under all-stars, who open with Palos Verdes today, began the summer losing all three games in the San Clemente Memorial Day Tournament before going 2-2 in the South Huntington Beach Tournament.

“I honestly believe we have a great shot at [the] state [tournament] with the players we have as a team overall,” Medina said. “We started from the bottom and now we’re on top. The skies the limit. We just need to stick to our game.”

The game of the weekend, by Cerritos standards, came with the 12-Under all-stars as they led Temecula Valley 1-0, 5-3 and 8-7 before falling 9-8 this past Sunday morning with the final two runs coming in the bottom of the fifth. The loss was the first in the playoffs after the team defeated another Temecula Valley team 6-4 in pool play action before falling to Aliso Viejo 11-0.

“The win yesterday was incredible,” said manager Brian Bulthuis. “We needed that for the momentum to take us to today. I think we got in the right bracket; this is exactly where we wanted to be. The girls played great. I’m proud of how they played. But we just couldn’t pull it off [today].”

In the playoff game, shortstop Lysa McDow singled, stole second and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the first inning. Temecula Valley would answer with three runs in the bottom half of the frame before Cerritos erupted for four runs in the second, highlighted by a bases-clearing double from right fielder Maya Torres.

With the score 5-4, Temecula Valley took a 7-5 lead in the fourth before Cerritos made another surge to regain the lead. Pitcher Bella Bulthuis reached on an error and was replace with courtesy runner Isabel Martins. Catcher Chanel Madrid then was safe on a fielder’s choice and she and Martins came home when first baseman Ashley McCart tripled to the left field gap. Two batters later, center fielder Makayla Vanosse tripled to left field, plating left fielder Katelyn Colvin.

“One thing we’ve been trying to teach the girls all season is to not give up,” Brian Bulthuis said. “Whether you’re up or your down, you’re always playing your “A” game. And they showed us that they understood that.

“Temecula a great team,” he continued. “We want to play good teams like that. I don’t want a blowout. I like when there’s a fight; a good battle.”

The win over the first Temecula Valley team was the first victory Cerritos had experienced all summer. The team, which also has two ties, will have to wait to see who it plays on Saturday in the district tournament.

“I believe in each one of these kids and I believe in their ability,” Bulthuis said. “And as a team, I do feel like we’re peaking at the right time. It’s a team sport and it’s going to take all 12 [players] to get us to state.”

The 8-Under all-stars tied Rialto 1-1 before falling to Temecula Valley 3-0 and Chino Hills 11-2. Cerritos also has one win in four tournaments as it will face Long Beach Heartwell today in the first game of districts. The top four teams in each age division will advance to the state tournament.