In spring, they play for 11 different Bay Area high school softball teams. Come summer and fall, the 12 members of the 16U Nor Cal Shockers travel team come together with one common goal to win.
Comprised of 16-year-old high school juniors, the Shockers boast some of the area's top talent from Liberty, Freedom, Deer Valley, Antioch, Concord, Alhambra, Carondelet, Vallejo, St. Patrick's, College Prep and Monte Vista.
It's really kind of funny to see them playing with different teams during the high school season, said Shockers shortstop Devon Jamerson, who attends Liberty. There's no negativity between us. It's all fun.
Assistant coach Dave Carter, also the coach of Alhambra High School's softball team, still marvels at the level of camaraderie between his Shockers players, crediting it for some of the team's success on the field.
They all get along so darn well. It's fun to watch them, Carter said. The rivalries they have in high school just make it more fun.
The Shockers competed in seven summer tournaments from May to July, but it was the team's first-place finish at the Oakland Metro Tournament in mid-June that qualified it for the four-day ASA Nationals in Owensborough, Ky. in August.
Just to qualify for a national tournament of that caliber was an accomplishment in itself, Carter said. The very best teams in the nation were there, and we were really happy to be there and to get to play against some of them.
In preparation for the nationals, the Shockers competed in a higher, 18U tournament in July, where they placed second.
Having gone 4-2 at the ASA Nationals last year in the 14U division, the Shockers found the competition in a higher age bracket to be bigger, stronger and faster this time around. But the team's respectable 2-2 record proved it was up for the challenge.
It was very intimidating at first, Jamerson said. We're a very small team in terms of height, and everyone in our division seemed so tall. But once we got the wiggles out and started playing, we realized they weren't that much different than us.
The Shockers players and coaches agreed that although the competition was tough, it was the muggy Kentucky weather that was the toughest to acclimate to.
It was so hot and humid so much different than we're all used to living in California, Jamerson said. But the worst part was the huge, disgusting bugs that were everywhere. They were the worst at night. That's when the creatures really came out.
For Carter and the rest of the Shockers coaching staff, the four-day tournament proved what their players were made of.
I was very, very proud of these girls, Carter said. We did really well for being a young 16U team. Considering how many thousands and thousands of great teams out there didn't even qualify put in perspective how well we did. It was a very rewarding experience.