Mountain Area softball players Emily Warnert, and Alexia Wilson, both 10, recently played in the 26-team 10U California State Games Junior Olympics State Games Softball Tournament in San Diego.
Warnert, a fifth-grade shortstop from Rivergold Elementary, and Wilson, a sixth-grade first baseman from Coarsegold Elementary, were asked to play for Liberty Gold, a Madera Ranchos team, after completing the regular season in the Yosemite Girl’s Softball League, and on the league all-star team, Mountain Thunder, managed by Randy Matyshock.
Liberty Gold had played against Mountain Thunder in the regional tournament, with Liberty qualifying to participate in the CSG tournament. Liberty Gold Manager, Sean Bowe, was impressed by the strong defensive play of both girls.
Bowe contacted (YGSL) president, Tami Franke and expressed his interest in having Wilson and Warnert join his team, for added depth, as they would otherwise be traveling with a nine-player roster.
Franke noted “It would be a great experience for the girls as YGSL has never made it there before.”
The Liberty Gold team Manager Sean Bowe said both Warnert and Wilson worked hard and excelled as members of his team.
“It is not easy joining a team in full stride and fitting in like they did,” Bowe said.
To get invited to the California State Games, team eligibility is decided by tournament play authorized by their local ASA Junior Olympics program.
With short notice the girls had to move fast from adjusting to new coaches and teammates to fundraising.
Warnert stated, "We had a bake sale and there were a lot of nice people that donated and were interested in me, they were just happy for me to have the opportunity.”
The tournament was set up as a double elimination, meaning lose 2 games and you are done. On Friday midday, Liberty Gold played the Carmel all stars. The first two innings the score was very close but key hits by Carmel in the later innings gave them a 10-1 victory.
Prior to opening ceremonies, in front of Qualcomm Stadium, athletes of like sports met in designated areas in front of the stadium. The Liberty Gold coaches had given each of the players 26 “Liberty Gold” team pins. In Olympic style they traded pins with girls from the other 25 teams to ultimately end up with a great souvenir sash to remember this event.
Liberty’s second game was against Nova, with Liberty Gold getting off to a quick 8-2 lead. Nova came back to tie the score at eight, before Liberty ended the game with a walk off hit to score the final run and win 9 to 8.
“After the win emotions ran high with excitement, believing they were as good as any team at the tournament,” said Bowe. “The confidence of our team was were it needed to be to continue to win, unfortunately, a large thunderstorm forced an early end to the tournament due to the amount of rain leaving the fields unusable.
“Our entire coaching staff is very proud of what our small town girls have accomplished ... top 10 in the state for their age and division is amazing,” Bowe said. “These girls showed tremendous heart and determination to succeed in the game they love,” Bowe stated. “Coaches can only do so much, it’s the girls that work hard everyday to become the athletes that they are and their accomplishments on the field shows how truly hard they worked.”
“My favorite experience was when I got to trade pins with the other teams outside the Chargers stadium,” Wilson said.
“In the first game, when I was playing shortstop and this girl hit a line drive shot at me and I caught the ball to end the inning was very exciting,” Warnert said. “Even though the storm cut short the tournament, it was fun be selected to play for Liberty Gold and to go to this huge tournament.”
Members of the team included Manager Sean Bowe, Head Coach Steve Pena, assistan coaches Hector Sanchez, and Aaron Reaves, and players Kaley Bowe, Hailey Bugg, Alexis Alvan, Bella Garcia, Nastasha Griffen, Jade Huerta, Lauren McLaury, Maddasin Pena, Desirae Sanchez, Emily Warnert, and Alexia Wilson.
- Staff Report