The Santa Monica Girls Fastpitch 12U Gold team is on track to compete at the national tournament in Salem, OR later this month—the first league team to advance beyond the state level in eight years.
The all-star team, made up of girls ages 12 and 13, finished its season with a 35-1-6 record, the best in the Santa Monica Girls Fastpitch League history.
"The dynamic of these girls is just astonishing, they meshed from day one," said head coach, Tony Temblador.
As the top picks from the league, the 12 team members were competitors during the regular fastpitch season. They had one week to build a team dynamic before playing their first tournament in June.
Despite losing the team's top pitcher to a back injury early on in the season, the girls secured four consecutive championship wins in league tournaments. They snagged fourth place at the July 7 state tournament in Lancaster, and now hold the second place title in the Los Angeles/South Bay district.
Three other all star teams from the league, 10U, 14U and high school, also competed at the state tournament July 7. It was the first time in the history of the league that more than one team qualified for the state competition.
"The enlightening moment, the moment when I realized how good we were, happened during our Irvine tournament, after we played six back-to-back games on a Sunday, made our way out of the loser's bracket and won the championship," said team manager Jennifer Thompson. "If we can do that, we can do anything."
Team members hail from across the Los Angeles area, from the South Bay to the Westside, and come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, Thompson said.
"They're a special group of girls, all leaders, with good grades and special skills," Thompson added.
The girls must part with their fellow teammate, Erika Soto, who is headed to play bells at the Olympics in London on behalf of the Mark Twain School band. The team will welcome a new player from San Pedro, however.
"There's no drama on our team," said team member Vanessa Temblador. "We all have a lot of heart and we all really want to win."
Coach Temblador said he is busy working on building strong bonds between the girls in preparation for the tournament.
In the meantime, the team is asking the community to help it raise $25,000 to cover the cost of transporting the girls and their parents to Salem for the national tournament July 30.
So far, the team has only secured $2,000.
Those interested in donating can make direct contributions to SMGF PO Box 3612 Santa Monica Blvd. 90408.