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PREMIER GIRLS FASTPITCH SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA QUALIFIER – Area softball athletes tune up for end of the summer top tournament with final qualifier

June 19, 2024

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

IRVINE-For those that don’t have a spot in the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championships in late July, this past weekend’s Southern California Qualifier gave teams that one last chance of an automatic berth. While it’s possible that teams will still be invited, several area softball players, either recent high school graduates or soon to be juniors and seniors, were with their respective travel teams hoping to get the invitation.

Eleven players on three 18-Under teams were at Harvard Park trying to help their organizations etch their names as Premier Division or Platinum Division participants next month. Here’s a look at how those players did this past weekend and how they have done since the end of high school.

The (Lakewood) Southern California Athletics-Rivera/Blank, have four recent Artesia High graduates, another who will be entering her senior year in August, and went 1-2 over the weekend. The team lost to the (Santa Clarita) I-5 Snyder 2-0 last Friday with both runs coming in the top of the sixth inning. Last Saturday afternoon, the So Cal Athletics-Rivera/Blanck edged the (Clovis) Top Dog-Nomura/Santana Gold 7-6 with the winning run coming in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs.

Center fielder Alea Medina, who is the lone Artesia player coming back, went one for two, scored twice and was walked three times. Catcher Vanessa Soto (Orange Coast Community College) and third baseman Maya Torres (Whittier College) each went one for three with Soto driving in a pair of runs and scoring once. Later in the evening, the So Cal Athletics were knocked out by the (Oxnard) Southern California Athletics-Tamai 3-2 with both runs coming in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings. Medina and Torres each went one for three with Medina scoring in the seventh with two outs.

In 11 games this summer, Torres is batting .444 with eight hits, five RBI, has scored four runs and has walked nine times, which leads the team. Medina is batting .381 with eight hits with 10 runs scored and has walked eight times. The two other Artesia graduated players on the team are outfielder Irma Gonzalez (Cerritos College) and Melissa Mendoza (Arizona Western College).

A pair of Whitney High sisters, Audrey and Nuella Anyama are on the (Whittier) USA Athletics-Garcia 18-Under team, which won a pair of games in the loser’s bracket before falling to the (Fresno) Firecrackers-Wallace 5-0 last Saturday night. The USA Athletics began the qualifier last Friday afternoon with a 4-1 win over the (Burbank) Firecrackers Hollywood-Workman, then was blanked by the (Los Angeles) Athletics Mercado-Gurrola 5-0 later in the evening. Audrey Anyama had a double coming off the bench in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The next day saw the USA Athletics eliminate the (San Gabriel) Titans Fastpitch-Aspeitia ACC 4-1 and the (Vacaville) Bulldog Softball Club 7-2 before being bounced out of the tournament. In 11 summer tournament games, Audrey Anyama is batting .250 with six hits, a double, a triple and two runs batted in while in nine games, Nuella Anyama is batting .231 with one home run, two runs scored and one RBI.

The USA Athletics are scheduled to participate in the USA Softball Champions Cup next month in Irvine and the Triple Crown Sports World Series in San Diego right after the Champions Cup.

Diana Bravo (John Glenn High/Park University), Sienna Contreras (John Glenn/Park University), Arianna Franco (Artesia/Pacific Lutheran University) and Amber Valdez (La Mirada High/Ottawa University) play for the (Downey) Ohana Tigers-Colenzo which lost both games played. Last Friday afternoon, the Ohana Tigers were defeated by the (Pasadena) California Thunder-LeVier/Milton 3-1 and the next day, were eliminated by the Titans Fastpitch ACC-Aspeitia 6-1. In the first game, Franco and Valdez each went one for three with the latter driving in the lone run. In the second game, Valdez went one for two and Franco scored the lone run.

In the 16-U age group, with all games played at Great Park in Irvine, Gahr High right fielder Malaia Huskey and Valley Christian High catcher Brianna Ramirez are on the (Fountain Valley) Explosion-Kim/Adame team that won all five games played to clinch a berth in the PGF National Championships. Last Friday, the Explosion shutout the (West Sacramento) All American-Mizuno Gold-Jackson/Mayfield and the (Vista) Breakers Lab-Blaney by identical 8-0 scores.

In the first game, Huskey drove in a run as the Explosion scored three times in the bottom of the first and five more in the fourth. In the second game, the Explosion put the game on ice with a six-run bottom of the fourth.

Last Saturday afternoon, the Explosion posted its third straight shutout with a 3-0 win over the (Placentia) West Coast Lady Dukes-Blanco. Huskey went one for one and reached on an error in the top of the sixth. Ramirez had earlier entered as a pinch runner, and both would score the second and third runs. Later in the evening, the Explosion defeated the (Moorpark) Southern California Choppers-Ashley 7-4 as it rallied from a 4-0 deficit after two innings to score six runs in the top of the fourth. Huskey would reach on an error in the fourth, which made it 4-2 and scored one batter later. She would also have one hit in three at-bats.

In the final game this past Sunday, the Explosion crushed the (Downey) Athletics Mercado-Slater 11-0. All the runs were scored in the first four innings with four coming in the top of the second and five more in the fourth. Huskey went three for three, scored three runs and drove in another. Since the beginning of June, the Explosion has won nine of 15 games with one tie mixed in.