After a week of tough competition with the best of the best at the ASA Softball National Championships (for Girls' B 12U Fast Pitch Western) last week in Salem, Oregon, the Alameda Blaze 12U girls softball team shocked the softball world by taking second place in the field of 49 teams who had qualified for Nationals.
Among the many highlights of the week for the Blaze were a Friday night defeat of a powerful Oregon team with raucous local fan support; a key, dramatic, come-from-behind win against an excellent Santa Monica team; beating and eliminating WAGS, the defending national champs; prevailing against El Rio, another southern California powerhouse team that many expected to win Nationals this year; battling through and winning three back to back to back nail-biting elimination games on Sunday to reach the national championship game against Simi Valley, the only undefeated team in tournament; and fighting Simi Valley for the championship all the way into extra innings, in what was the Blaze's fourth consecutive game without a break in a marathon Sunday that began with a first game at 8 a.m. and concluded a little before 5 p.m.
No team played with more heart, moxie and resilience at Nationals than the Alameda Blaze. The team and the entire Blaze family of coaches, parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, sponsors, volunteers, the AGSA league, the City of Alameda and many other supporters in Alameda can all be proud that Blaze concluded the summer season as the #2 team at Nationals.
But much more important than the final outcome of any particular game or any national ranking is the outstanding way the tough, smart Blaze girls played the game and represented themselves and Alameda. Like the many great stories we have seen at the Olympics, the success of the Blaze this summer is an inspirational reminder of the lessons sports can teach and the character that sports can build for girls and boys, women and men.
The 2012 12U Alameda Blaze are Alexis Esparza, Beatrice Levy, Cassie Lumpkin, Sarah Mahler, Savannah Mesterhazy, Mira Piamonte, Bella Sheel, Ruby Siltanen, Jemma Thorpe, Bella Vick, Christine Warren, Lily Wilmot and Mikayla Wong.
Congratulations on a great, historic season, Blaze!