The Carpinteria Valley Girls Softball League (CVGSL) has been making its mark as champions lately. Last year, the 12U squad went to Nationals in Camarillo. This year, the 14U girls headed to Nationals in Redding. To earn that spot, the 14U girls competed in the USA Softball “C” State Championship in Lancaster and Palmdale in June.
The journey started last May when team manager Thomas Mendoza and four players from Carpinteria put together an All-Star team. “We didn’t have enough players in Carpinteria, so we reached out to Ojai … and then we had three players from Goleta, and we added one more, Teagan (Haley),” explained Mendoza, whose daughter Mackenzie is also on the All-Stars team.
Alongside assistant coaches, Alex Cruz and Mario Reyes, Mendoza saw slow progress from the squad during the first three tournaments. CVGSL dropped games to Lompoc, Goleta and San Luis Obispo, two by double digit margins. “(We had) three different coaching styles and trying to get everyone on the same page (was difficult),” said Mendoza.
After losing to Santa Paula and Ventura, “We said (to the girls) this is it, if we don’t put it together, we don’t win this game, our season’s over right here,” said Mendoza. Things started to change. A lopsided shutout victory over La Canada and a 17-7 win over Northridge meant CVGSL had qualified for the state tournament. Although they lost to Ventura again in their final game, they were on their way to State.
The 14U squad took on teams from San Diego to Carpinteria. They lost to Temple City 12-3, but picked up back-to-back wins against stalwarts from South Bay and Hawthorne, 9-7 and 6-3, respectively. They were eliminated by Rancho Trabuco, whose players collectively had an average height of five feet, eight inches. Nevertheless, the effort earned them a bid to the Nationals.
However, CVGSL’s next challenge would be to raise enough money to play six days in Redding, the site of the tournament. Needing roughly $1,500 to $2,000 per player to enter, the league was able to raise around $5,200. Sponsors such as Tom and Kathy De Alba, John and Nancy Koonze, Edward Van Wingerden, along with CARP Growers and Green Leaf Landscape all helped to make it happen.
CVGSL was one of only four “C” level teams out of 40 to make it to the tourney. They battled against “B” teams who came from leagues with player pools of over 350, compared to the 70 players in CVGSL. Once again, the girls made a good showing, tying for 25th place overall.
Playing in Redding was special for the girls because Redding’s Big League Dreams Sports Parks were designed to replicate famous baseball parks such as Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. With only 10 players and one pitcher, CVGSL showed their mettle, as they took powerhouse Porterville to seven innings before dropping a 1-0
decision their final game. The girls hope to build upon the momentum
of an amazing year as the fall season approaches.