Families lose together and families win together.
Teams competing in the 2011 USA/ASA Girls 10-Under Class A Fastpitch Softball National Championship this week have a bond that can’t be broken. As the tournament winds down with only four of the original 31 teams left, they’ll pull together to compete at Winged Deer Park for the coveted national prize.
On Friday, Team Watley, based in Santa Ana, Calif., triumphed over the Frost Falcons 00, from Chattanooga, 4-0 to secure their place in the championship contest.
“All the teams came here with the thought process to be national champions, with some teams’ dreams being more realistic than others,” said Craig Cress, director of membership services at the Amateur Softball Association. “Both teams have the prize in mind and they’re one victory away from a national championship.”
Steve Frost, coach of the Frost Falcons, says his girls knew coming into the game that Team Watley was the group to beat. They’ve got one of the hardest tossers in the tournament, Megan Faraimo, who cranked out some pitches that were difficult to swing at.
“They executed their game plan really well, and that’s just the way it goes sometimes,” Frost said.
Coach Robert Young of Team Watley praised Faraimo’s performance, along with the eight girls standing behind her on the field. The team has played well over the course of the tournament, giving up a single run in pool play earlier this week.
“In my heart, I felt that we deserved to be here based on the fact that we are the best 10-under group in Orange County,” he said. “There’s not a harder-working group. I’m not surprised that we’ve made it to where we’re at. Now we have to finish it Saturday.”
Team Watley will take on the winner of losers’ bracket play today at 1 p.m. at Winged Deer Park, but before that can happen, the remaining three teams will duke it out for the chance to tangle with the Southern California team.
The Frost Falcons may meet Team Watley again, if they can come out on top against the winner of the Corona Angels and TPS 2000 game that begins at 9 a.m.
“They’re a little bit down,” Frost said, “but that’s part of the game. It’s been awhile since they’ve lost.”
With an 85-9 record, the Falcons came to the tournament with loads of experience. Frost is still focused on keeping the girls healthy because the hot weather and long games have taken a toll on his players, who are fighting fatigue and blisters.
In the meantime, Young will try his best to keep his team calm, despite the importance of today’s game.
“Our game plan is one pitch at a time, one inning at a time,” he said. “We’ll come out Saturday and do what we do, play Watley ball.”
After the other championship contender is determined from the 11 a.m. contest with the Frost Falcons, two teams will collide for the prestigious prize at 1 p.m. Should the team from the loser’s bracket beat Team Watley, they’ll face one another again at 3 p.m.
Regardless of the way it plays out, this will be a week they’ll never forget.
“One you get a national championship, whether you’re 10 or 40, you can’t take that away,” Cress said. “Today, you’ll see tears of happiness and tears of sadness, but they’re all champions just for being here.”