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PREMIER GIRLS FASTPITCH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW Artesia Punishers 18 Gold team hopes to feed off last year’s stellar finish in top tournament

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

In 2007, Bobby Medina’s Artesia Punishers won the USA/Amateur Softball Association 18-Under National Championship, the lone title at that level for the program. Three years later came the emergence of the Premier Girls Fastpitch, a new organization that was to compete with ASA.

And after several years of struggling in the new organization at the end of every July, the Punishers had their best performance last year. Now, in the 10thanniversary of the PGF, Medina hopes to bring home a second national title after coming in third place last July in the Platinum Division. The Punishers had somewhat of a stress-free summer thus far as they didn’t have to compete in any of the PGF qualifiers, the first time that has happened. So, Medina has worked his team in a plethora of showcase games as well as friendlies, hoping to find that right combination. Even as pool play action of the PGF National Championship commences on Saturday, Medina still hasn’t decided on his top 12 players who he hopes will be the main force once the playoffs begin Monday morning.

“I see the strengths…if we have our starting nine all show up, then I think everything is going to go well,” Medina said. “But they all have to come to play. We definitely have 12 good, solid players that we can get in there and compete at that level. The fault is them consistently putting the bat on the ball over and over again.”

From 2013-2017, the Punishers went 5-10 in playoff games in the PGF National Championship. Last year, they won the first four games before falling into the loser’s bracket. And while most of the team were seniors, Medina still has some experience on this year’s team to make another solid run and at least automatically qualify for next year’s end of the summer extravaganza.

“I think last year’s team was a different team,” Medina said. “By far, [this year’s team] is not the same team. Every team is different. A coach’s job is to try to balance your strengths and weaknesses and try to make it best for everything. But I don’t think this year’s team compares to last year’s team at all. Last year’s team was 110 percent committed every day seven days a week for three weeks straight [leading up to the PGF Nationals].”

While no one really stands out on this year’s team, Medina says the key to his team’s success will come from inside the circle as his entire pitching staff is new to the team.

“Definitely our pitchers,” Medina said of his team’s strengths. “We have three good, solid pitchers and mentally they have to come prepared. Sometimes they’re not, so one of them will have a bad day and in PGF, you can’t have a bad day. You have to have a good day. I feel in the pool play, we’ll find the one who has the strength and who wants to go get it. Someone will step up and that’s the one we’ll deal with.”

2019 Artesia Punishers 18 Gold

Coach: Bobby Medina

Assistants: Ed Blanck, Joe Fletcher, Juan Guzman, Deann Medina, Thomas Togia

Artesia Punishers 18 Gold teams during the 10 years of the Premier Girls Fastpitch (playoff bracket games only). The Punishers have gone a combined 7-9-2 in pool play games, which don’t factor in who they draw in the playoffs. Pool play games are held the first two days of the PGF National Championship.

2010DNP (Played in the USA/ASA Nationals in Hemet)



2013L 6-1 (Hillsboro) Oregon Thunder

W 7-1 (Keizer) Oregon Panthers

L 9-7 (Chandler) Arizona Hotshots

2014L 5-4 Salinas Storm

L 5-2 (West Hills) Southern California 3D

2015L 10-7 (Salem, OR) Northwest Batbusters

L 6-5 (Sugar Land, TX) Aces Express

2016 W 4-0 (West Covina) Heybucket

W 5-3 (Coeur D’Alene) North Idaho X-Treme

L 3-2 (Des Moines) Iowa Premier

L 4-2 (Tarpon Springs) Team Florida

2017W 3-1 (Villa Park) Firecrackers Ensey-Stream

L 5-3 (Elk Grove) Batbusters Cervellin

W 5-3 (San Dimas) Ohana Tigers

L 3-0 (Sacramento) Stingers

2018W 5-3 (Albuquerque) Mizuno Storm-Beach

W 5-4 (Ogden, UT) Mountain West

W 3-1 Chicago Cheetahs

W 9-3 (Rio Rancho) New Mexico Sundancers

L 9-2 (Elk Grove) Firecrackers North-Thomas

W 5-1 (Thousand Oaks) Batbusters-Konis

L 7-2 (Long Beach) USA Athletics

Pool play games at Bill Barber Park, Field #1

Saturday, 8:00 a.m. vs. (Sacramento) All American Mizuno-Jackson

Saturday, 9:40 a.m. vs. (Salt Lake City) Utah Fastpitch Club-Brown

Sunday, 11:40 a.m. vs. (Collinsville, IL) Extreme Elite

Monday morning (first playoff game, TBA)

Monday, 5:00-7:00 p.m. Opening ceremonies at Huntington Beach Central Park

Tuesday-Friday (playoffs continue with championship game on Friday, TBA)

Player​​​Positions​, Bats/Throws,   High school/college

#00Sara Casey​​C/IF/OFL/R​​ Orange Lutheran High

#1Bailey Jacobsen1B/OF​​L/L​​ Cypress High

#2Sophie Little​​CF/2B​​L/R​​ Culver City High

#3/#12Cheyanne GomezOF/1B/3BR/R​​ Lakewood High

#4Patricia Soto​​3B/1B/OF/PR/R​​ Millikan High

#7Mya Diaz​​C/2B​​R/R​​ Anaheim High

#8Mikala FletcherOF​​L/R​​ Downey High

#9/#14Krista GuzmanOF/1B​​L/ L​​ Schurr High

#10Monica DeherreraC/3B/SSR/R​​ Ellen Ochoa Prep

#11Angelina Perez2B/OF​​R/R​​ Norwalk High

#13Ari Levi​​C/OF​​R/R​​ La Habra High/Claremont College

#15 Kieren Lopez​​UTIL​​R/R​​ Frontier High/Chaminade University

#17/#22 Emma ChickmanOF/MI​​L/R​​ Edison High

#19Ariana HamiltonSS/2B​​R/R​​ Downey High

#21Taina Togia​​SS/2B​​R/R​​Kennedy High

#24Yasmine Castellanos1B/3B/PR/R​​ California High/St. Lawrence College

#25Jennifer AguilarSS/UTILR/R​​ Santa Fe High/Howard College

#27Kailani FletcherC/2B/OFR/R​​ Downey High

#32Skylar Liebrecht3B/SS/2BR/R​​ St. Joseph High

#36Samantha Noriega3B/OF​​R/R​​ Carson High/Berkeley

#42Briana Vigil​​1B/OF​​R/R​​ Port of Los Angeles High

#43Taylor Genera​​P/1B​​R/R​​ Whitney High/Chaminade University

#44Charlene Fregoso1B/C/3BR/R​​ Artesia High

#55Kayliah Birdsong C/1B​​R/R​​ La Habra High

#64Branda Duran​​1B/3B​​R/R​​ Artesia High/Salt Lake City College

#77Alondra Gonzalez2B/UTIL.R/R​​ Legacy High

#88Robbi GallegosC/UTIL​​R/R​​ St. Joseph High

#99Katherine SernaP/1B/OFL/R​​ St. Paul High