The East County Hot Shots 13U team pulled of a remarkable feat in Reno recently, playing up a division and taking home the 14B Division NSA World Series title. Three other Hot Shot teams made the trip to Reno, and two of them turned in top-four performances of their own, as the organization's performance surpassed its coaches' wildest expectations.
It was fabulous because we have one girl who lives in Martinez, one from Concord, one from Discovery Bay we have girls from all over, and they don't all go to school together, said 13U assistant coach Richard Bradshaw. This was the first trip where the girls were all together staying at the same hotel, and there's a lot of free time, so the girls got to participate in a lot of activities together. For us, the main thing was to go up there and for the girls to have a good time.
The 13U Hot Shots breezed through the opening rounds of the double-elimination tournament, knocking off California Paradise 10-2 in its first-round match-up, then downing the Blaze Fusion of Washington 7-3.
The girls got their first chance to play a fellow Northern California team in the quarterfinal round, handling Tracy's Liberty Fastpitch with ease 11-4 to advance to the semifinal round, where they faced their toughest test of the tournament the Hot Shots.
A local Nevada team, the Carson Valley Hot Shots were the last obstacle between the 13U East County Hot Shots and a berth in the 14B Division's championship round, and they put up quite a fight. However, East County turned up the heat against their namesakes and advanced, undefeated, to the championship round with a 6-3 win.
After suffering the quarterfinal loss to the Hot Shots, Liberty Fastpitch stormed through the loser's bracket of the double-elimination event and advanced to face the Hot Shots once again in the championship round, but having suffered a loss already, needed to defeat East County twice to capture the title.
Liberty Fastpitch came out of the gates swinging, and defeated the Hot Shots 4-3 in their first contest of the championship round. That momentum carried over into the second game, as the Tracy team took a commanding 12-8 lead into the bottom of the seventh and final inning.
However, the Hot Shots, down to their final three outs, were far from defeated.
The East County girls stormed back, scoring four runs, seemingly in the blink of an eye, tying the game at 12-12 before recording the first out of the inning.
After making two quick outs following tying the game, the Hot Shots sent Nathalie Paskell, who hadn't been able to play for a significant portion of the season due to knee injuries, to the plate. She walked, then alertly took second base on a passed ball.
When Morgan Perry smacked a single into center field, Paskell took off on contact and never hesitated, rounding third and heading for home, beating the throw from the outfield to slide home with the tournament-winning run.
After the game, Paskell revealed that her family would be moving to Ohio, and that the NSA World Series championship game would be her last with the Hot Shots.
It was really neat for her because she'd hurt both her knees earlier in the season and she hadn't been able to play in the field and she'd just been hitting, said Bradshaw. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when she gave us her speech to tell us she was leaving.
The 10U Hot Shots also made their way into a championship game in Reno, and they did it the hard way, losing early and fighting tooth and nail through the loser's bracket. However, their World Series dreams were dashed by the Acers from Washington, who defeated them in a hard-fought 7-6 battle to claim the crown.
The 14U Hot Shots competed hard in the 14A Division, making it all the way to the semifinal round before being eliminated by the division's eventual champion, the Yucaipa Pass Dynasty, 2-0. And although they were eliminated early, the 12U Hot Shots gained valuable experience by facing the best competition available.
You always tell your players that if they work hard, they can achieve anything, said Bradshaw. But to actually do it No matter where they go and what they do now, they'll have that belief that with hard work they can accomplish anything, and that means so much.
Players for the 13U Hot Shots are Brittany Barnett, Morgan Perry, Victoria Bradshaw, Chandler Kirkman, Lyvie Ilayan, Nathalie Paskell, Brianna Simpson, Ashley Baughman, Maliyah Victor, Kelly Blalock, and coaches Anthony Victor, Richard Bradshaw, Dennis Perry and Will Blalock.
Although Fall Ball tryouts have already passed, the Hot Shots are always looking for talented, motivated young players to join their program. Roster spots might still be available.
For more information about Hot Shots softball, visit www.eastcountyhotshots.com.