Two teams from Southern California, the Corona Angels and Team Watley, traveled thousands of miles to participate in the 2011 USA/ASA Girls 10-Under Class A Fastpitch Softball National Championship at Winged Deer Park. Though they had faced one another many times in their home state, the groups took to the field again Saturday to compete in the final and most important game of the week, ending in a giant 7-0 win for Team Watley.
“To be honest, we kind of felt that we would probably play a California team in the championship,” Team Watley Coach Robert Young said of the eight California-based teams that made the trip to Johnson City for the Amateur Softball Association nationals.
The Corona Angels, from Chino Hills, Calif., fought through two games Saturday morning to make it to the final match by winning 7-3 over TPS 2000 from Deer Park, Texas followed by a narrow 8-7 escape from Chattanooga’s Frost Falcons. When it came time to turn around and play a third contest mid-afternoon, Corona Angels’ Coach Ken Holt thought about the eight previous meetings between them and Team Watley.
“We took a realistic approach when we made it to this game,” he said. “Our goal as an organization was to try to make it to the title game, that secures the ASA berth for the following season. Beating Watley once is a feat in itself. Beating them twice with pitchers that had been tired from the previous two days probably wasn’t very realistic. My goal was to get every player in the game. It’s not always about winning.”
With the advantage of more than a half a day of rest, Team Watley from Santa Ana, Calif., bounced onto the field ready to play. They tallied one run in the second inning, followed by five in the third and another in the fourth.
“We have a tremendous hitting team, so with Megan’s pitching and our defense, we feel if we score one or two runs, the game is over,” Young said.
Megan Faraimo tossed a no-hitter and had a smile from ear-to-ear as she walked up to receive her championship medal and red rose.
“I can’t believe we got this far,” she said. “I’m just really excited that we got here. It feels great to know that my team was behind me cheering for me with every pitch.”
When asked what the secret is to becoming national champions, Young’s answer was simple: hard work. During the awards ceremony, the coach was complimentary to each member of Team Watley. After coaching some of the girls for a year or more, he’s gotten to know them on a personal level that makes the big win even sweeter.
“It’s overwhelming,” he said. “I can’t find enough words to describe it. To see the looks on these kids’ faces and to see them joyous and excited makes it really really special.”
Everyone left the field on a positive note, even the Corona Angels, who were proud of their three-game performance on Saturday.
“To prepare them for the humidity, we made them run a lot,” Holt said. “We told these girls that we know we’re talented and that we can pitch, hit, run and field, but we were concerned about the elements. These guys had just as much energy today as they did when we arrived on Sunday.”
A short time after the game had ended, Young was still trying to piece together his emotions. The win marked his fifth national championship and his second in Johnson City.
“It’s a coach’s dream,” he said. “This is what we work for.”