In its first year in existence, the Yosemite Blaze 10 and under fast pitch softball team has qualified to participate in the National Softball Association Western World Series taking place in Reno, Nevada, July 26-30.
The Western World Series is a four-day long tournament that pits teams from the western United States and Canada against each other. The tournament is by invitation only. Teams must qualify to participate based on their success during the spring fast pitch season.
The Blaze have shown that success with its current 20-7 win-loss record.
This is a remarkable accomplishment for any softball team, but particularly a team that has only been competing since August 2016.
In the June 3-4 Merced Fastpitch Challenge tournament, the team won all five of its games, winning the championship in the gold division.
In the five wins, the team scored a total of 49 runs while pitchers Emma Blea and Khloe Owen combined for four complete game shutouts, giving up a single run in the five games.
The team placed second in the gold division at a May 27-28 tournament in Sonora, losing to the Oakdale Heat by two runs.
This past weekend, the team placed second in the gold division at another tournament in Merced, winning four games and losing one.
“We dominate with our pitching and catching,” Head coach Tami Franke said. “Our catcher, Jada Matthewson, has been playing really well and has been picking off runners at third all season long.”
In addition to outstanding pitching,the whole team is hitting well according to Franke.
“Clowey (Alberta), Aiyana (Bos), Emma (Blea), Jayden (Johnson) and Cassidy (Kline Smith) are our power hitters,” Franke said. “I just started teaching Khloe (Owen) and Jada (Matthewson) to be ‘slappers’ and both of them do it well. Between slapping, drag bunting and power hitting this season, we are players are getting on base 95% of the time. Slappers are considered a triple threat in softball and are highly recruited by colleges. Gracie (Proctor) is our bunt specialist, Cassie (Hansen) is a single base hitter although she has a couple home runs, and Anika (Mulkey) is really good at drag bunting and is amazingly fast running the bases.
“The girls have played extremely well together all spring, often beating teams with much more playing experience,” Franke said. “A testament to their talent and hard work is that they have placed in the gold division in each tournament in which they have participated this season. This is the first travel softball team from the Mountain Area to go to this tournament in Reno and I think they have a chance to win their division.”
Franke’s assistant coaches are Nate Hodges and Justin Demeusy.
The Yosemite Blaze is a girls’ fast pitch travel softball organization that fields teams in the 12u and 14u divisions in addition to the 10u squad.
Details: Tami Franke, (559) 840-5919.