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TRAVEL SOFTBALL ROUNDUP – Area players tune-up for Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championships

June 20, 2024

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

In the world of travel softball, if you’re not in a qualifying tournament for the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championships, or other such end of the summer tournaments, then you’re in one of many showcase tournaments. Numerous area players, either recent graduates or still in high school, were in action this past weekend at multiple locations in the Southland, and even in the heartland of America.

Five players representing four travel teams were at Harvard Park participating in the Southern California Athletics Invitational. Three pools of six teams each played two to four pool play games before the single elimination playoffs began last Saturday night. When it was all said and done, the (Riverside) BSC Bengals-Briggs, with Gahr High graduates Natalia Hill (University of Nebraska) and Rio Mendez (University of Utah), lost to the (Surprise) AZ Storm-Mathis 1-0 in one semifinal game.

The BSC Bengals doubled up the (Chicago) Beverly Bandits Premier-Conroy 4-2 last Friday afternoon before tying the (Santa Clarita) Southern California Choppers-Fausett 2-2 later in the day. In the first game, Hill was walked twice and scored once while Mendez went one for two and drove in a run. In the last game of the day for everyone, Hill went one for three.

Last Saturday, the BSC Bengals blanked the (Mountain View) California Nuggets-Woods 2-0 with both runs coming in the bottom of the first inning. Hill, who was playing second base, drew a walk to begin the inning and three batters, scored on a double from Long Beach State University commit Callie Fitzpatrick. Mendez, who was playing to the right of Hill, was hitless in one official at-bat and was walked once. The BSC Bengals would then fall to the (Los Alamitos) Wildcats-Weil 4-1 as Hill had one of the four hits the team would collect. Again, Mendez went hitless in one at-bat, but was walked once.

In the playoffs, the BSC Bengals posted a 4-0 win over the (Huntington Beach) Explosion Premier this past Sunday as Hill went one for two and was walked once, then knocked off the (Orange) Southern California Athletics-Richardson 4-1. After falling behind 1-0, the BSC Bengals scored all four runs in the top of the fourth. With one out, Mendez drew a walk and two batters later, came home on a triple from Hill, who drove in two of the other three runs. Immediately following the game, the BSC Bengals were limited to four hits by the AZ Storm as the lone run was scored in the top of the fifth. Since June 1, the BSC Bengals, which had already clinched a berth in the PGF National Championships, are 13-4-2. The team will travel to Boulder, CO to participate in the Louisville Slugger Independence Day Tournament, which runs from July 3-7.

Also in the So Cal Athletics Invitational was Gahr’s Jackie Gachupin, who plays for the Explosion Premier which went 2-2 in pool play action before falling to the BSC Bengals. Gachupin went two for four in the four games with the hits coming against the (Mission Viejo) California Cruisers-Sievers, a 3-0 loss, and the (Lodi) Sorcerer-Gabales/Rodriguez, a 3-2 defeat.

Kayla Martin, a first baseman who has one more year at Valley Christian High, plays for the (Cerritos) Ohana Tigers Gold-Quarles which went 1-2-1 in pool play action, then lost to the Sorcerer Gabales/Rodriguez 6-1 in the playoffs. Martin, who has committed to Colgate University, played in three games and got a hit in the playoff game.

The final area player who was in the So Cal Athletics Invitational was Marley Cortez of Gahr. The third baseman plays for the Wildcats-Weil, which will also be going to the PGF National Championships. After going 2-2 in pool play action, the Wildcats fell to the So Cal Athletics-Richardson 10-0 in the playoffs. Cortez drew two walks and scored once against the BSC Bengals.

Five more area players on three teams were in the 7-Inning Series, Triple Crown Sports Summer Invitational hosted by the (Ontario) Firecrackers-Brashear with games at La Bonita Park in La Habra. There were 18 teams in six pools of three, highlighted by the (Garden Grove) 5 Star Playmakers-Siofele/Mulipola, the Corona Angels-Tyson and the (Downey) Nemesis Elite.

La Mirada High’s star pitcher, Montserrat Reyes-Cardenas, plays for the Corona Angels, which won both pool play games and were seeded second in the playoffs. But the Angels lost to the (Anaheim) Batbusters-Stith 12-6 to begin the playoffs this past Sunday before bouncing back to get past the (Huntington Beach) Firecrackers Select-Rico/Brashear. In pool play action, the Angels smashed the (Lodi) Batbusters-Gomes 16-0 and blanked the (Ontario) Firecrackers-Brashear/Hicks Gold 6-0.

V.C.’s Zoee Barrett and Choyce Chambers play for the Nemesis Elite which lost to the (Ontario) Firecrackers-Brashear/Hicks Gold 18-2 before clipping the (Corona) Athletics Mercado-Cook 4-3 last Friday. In the playoffs, the 12th-seeded Nemesis lost to the (La Puente) Orange County Batbusters-Lara 11-6 before defeating the Firecrackers-Brashear/Hicks Gold 7-2.

Kaleyse Foster of Artesia High and Larissa Flores (Gahr/California State University, Northridge) are on the 5 Star Playmakers, which lost to the (Anaheim) O.C. Batbusters-Stith Black 10-2 and the (Fontana) Ruthless-Olguin/Rosalez 4-3 last Friday in pool play action, then defeated the (Riverside) California Lite-Flores 5-4 before falling to the (Pico Rivera) ZT Blaze-Del Campo 4-1.

La Mirada’s Angelina Ratzlaff and Katherine Villegas of Cerritos High are on the (Signal Hill) USA Athletics-Rogers Gold 16-Under team that went to Shawnee, KS in the Kansas City metro area to compete in the Maverick Division of the Top Gun Invitational. The USA Athletics lost all five pool play games played, then defeated the (Omaha) Nebraska National Team-Taylor 3-2 before losing to the (Tennessee City) Tennessee Mojo-Lewis 9-6 last Saturday.

Ratzlaff had a run-scoring double in the first pool play game against the Tampa Mustangs last Thursday and drove in a run against the (Greenville, SC) Carolina Elite last Friday.

Catcher Peyton Kingery of V.C. plays for the (Riverside) BSC Bengals-Briggs, which went 2-3 in pool play action, defeated the Corona Angels-Howard 10-3 last Saturday in the playoffs before falling to the (Oklahoma City) Oklahoma Athletics National Team-Madden/Brown 6-4 right after the win over the Corona Angels.