CARLSBAD — Long a hotbed for talent on the diamond, the one elusive title has finally made the city its home.
On July 10, the Carlsbad 12U Vendetta All-Star softball team captured its first-ever Amateur Softball Association Southern California state championship after a pair of victories over Escondido.
The win vaulted the girls into next week’s western national tournament in Kingman, Ariz.
Carlsbad, along with 28 other teams from California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico will compete in the double-elimination tournament.
The Vendetta has played as their name suggests — going on a blitzkrieg all season and piling up a 36-2-1 record — plus winning the Northern San Diego district tournament.
“In fact, we don’t win many district championships,” assistant coach Jeff Jarrard said. “Winning state was something we wanted to do. We told the girls, if we can win state, there is a great chance you’re going to win nationals.”
The Southern California region ranges from south of Santa Monica down to Bonita Valley.
About the only thing slowing down the Vendetta is the lack of open fields for practices as the squad prepares for the national tournament.
“It’s pretty crazy because no Carlsbad team has won it,” said left fielder Kaitlyn McKibben. “We work together pretty well.”
Just about every year, the Carlsbad softball team’s season has come to an end, so the fields are used for other activities. This year, however, is throwing a wrench in those plans.
Since there is a shortage, the club practiced this past week at Carlsbad High School.
“It’s been really fun,” said catcher/first baseman Laurel Moody. “We hit the ball hard and make them (their opponents) make errors. We’re patient, too.”
Dominance began right off the bat as the Vendetta blasted and battered its opponents to start the season 17-0.
Their run for perfection ended with a 4-4 tie against Los Alamitos on June 11 followed eight days later with the team’s first loss, 3-2 against Charter Oaks.
“During practice, we all focus on our goals we want to accomplish,” said pitcher/shortstop London Jarrord.
In the district tournament, the Carlsbad team was upended 5-3 by Escondido and relegated to the loser’s bracket. However, the girls showed their moxie with three straight wins to win the title, including revenge victories of 10-0 and 3-1 over Escondido.
At state, the Vendetta blew through the opening rounds and slipped past Bonita Valley, 5-4, before dropping Thousand Oaks twice to win the championship.
“It’s fun,” Jarrard said. “It’s been a good, good run. The last game against Thousand Oaks we’re down 4-1 … and it started with a little hit with two outs. The next six girls hit balls in the gaps … and we went into the last inning up 15-7 and won 15-11.”
Typical of any softball success, the old cliché of good hitting, pitching and defense is an instant talking point. For the Vendetta, the old saying rings true.
The team has pitched nine shutouts and allowed just one or two runs in 13 other games. It’s no wonder the club rolled through the opposition.
Perhaps the most important ingredient, though, is the chemistry of the players, Jarrard said.
The girls played with travel teams, but put went on hiatus to compete in the Carlsbad Youth League with the goal of winning state and nationals.
Four of the girls began playing with each other when they were on the 8U team and the others have mixed in, as they got older.
“There is not a real superstar on the team,” Jarrard said. “They can all hit, which is the amazing part. Chemistry is great; the girls all like each other. The parents all get along and they (the players) all accept their roles.”
In addition to the three aforementioned players, the others representing Carlsbad are Brianna Shea, Emma Bissi, Hannah Suemnick, Julissa Garcia, Katie Whitaker, Mickey Buscemi, Samantha Ruiz, Sara Pustinger, Taylor Hanson and Alexa Mikeska.