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PREMIER GIRLS FASTPITCH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS – Artesia Punishers Gold team lacks offense in three bracket games of prestigious tournament

The Artesia Punishers 18 Gold travel softball team went 1-2-1 in pool play action of the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championships over the weekend, then won their first bracket game this past Monday before losing two straight this past Tuesday.


July 27, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

IRVINE- A promising start for the Artesia Punishers 18 Gold travel softball team on the first day of bracket play in the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championships turned out to be a quick exit by the end of the next night. The Punishers were shutout in their only two games played this past Tuesday and were eliminated from the tournament.

“It was pretty good to get their first win,” said Punishers head coach Leo Amaya of winning this past Monday’s game. “They competed yesterday; they really did. Today, in the beginning, different personalities came in.”

The Punishers faced the [Upland] Easton Preps this past Monday afternoon at the Orange County Great Park and despite getting just one hit, held on to win the game 3-2. The Punishers scored twice in the top of the second inning as designated player Kayden Lopez (Garces Memorial High) was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a one-out single from pitcher Anissa Vital (Mary Star of the Sea High/Chaminade University) and came home when right fielder Kamryn Lopez (Garces Memorial High) reached on an error. She would steal second and Brianna Garcia walked left fielder Jocelyn Solorzano (St. Paul High) to load the bases. On an 0-2 count, catcher Sophia Arvizu (St. Paul) would groundout to Garcia, plating courtesy runner Isabella Ordaz (Bellflower High).

Easton Preps would cut the lead in half when Tati Pisa reached second on an error to begin the bottom of the second. With two outs, she came home on a triple from Ella Noble.

In the next inning, Garcia walked shortstop Kaila Yniguez (Bellflower) to lead off the frame, stole a pair of bases and came home on a groundout from Kayden Lopez. Even with the team getting one hit, it had numerous chances to score as four players were walked, three were hit by a pitch and one reached on an error. The Punishers would strand half a dozen runners.

Easton Preps made it interesting in the bottom of the sixth when Miquela Leopoldo doubled to the left field corner with one out, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single to the right field gap from Nichole Donahue. But Vital, who was replaced by Kamryn Lopez with two outs in the fifth, returned to the circle to retire the last four batters of the game.

“Our defense was really good, and our pitching was awesome, to be honest,” said Amaya. “It was anybody’s game and if we would have got a hit, we could have opened it up. Or, if they would have had one more hit, they could have opened it up as well. But I believe our defense was really good and our pitching as well.”

The Punishers would face the [Phoenix] AZ Hotshots early this past Tuesday morning and were mercy-ruled 11-0 in a contest that lasted four innings. The only baserunners for the Punishers would be a leadoff single from Mikala Jacobsen (Cypress High) in the bottom of the first and a one-out single from Alicia Amaya (Bellflower/Chaminade University). After that, Hotshots pitcher Autumn Kunze would retire the next 10 batters she faced, striking out four.

Later in the evening in an elimination game, the bats would be silent again as the Punishers mustered only three hits in a 4-0 loss to the [Portland] Northwest Bullets. Yniguez in the top of the second with none out, Solorzano with one on and none out in the third and Alicia Amaya with two outs in the sixth were the only ones to record a hit. The Punishers would not have a runner reach third and would strand five on the basepaths. The Bullets would score solo runs in the first and second innings and two in the fourth to put the game away. They collected seven hits and their pitcher, Ryan Grace, struck out 11 batters

“With runners on first and second, Kaila was up, and I was going to give her the bunt sign,” said Leo Amaya. “I decided not to because I wanted her to get a good, little double, hopefully. I think she grounded out to third. But I was trying to go with my instinct and let her hit the ball because when she hits the ball, she gets doubles most of the time.”

Prior to bracket play, the Punishers played in four pool play games which had no bearing on the bracket games. Last Saturday, the Punishers fell to the [Farmingdale, NJ] Jersey Intensity KOD Cerchio 6-2 as Jacobsen has two of the team’s four hits and scored both runs, and the [Chino] USA Athletics-Karrer 8-2 with Nathaly Ochoa (Santee High) and Alicia Amaya collecting the lone hits.

This past Sunday, the Punishers defeated the [Plano, TX] American Freedom 6-2 and tied the Sacramento Hitterz-Abar 2-2.