Steal Breeze Tournament a reminder of how far the girls have come
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.
Times change. Sometimes, it really is progress. I can well remember watching my first high school softball game at Petaluma High School. This was back in medieval times when there was no Casa Grande and girls sports were recreational pursuits.
I don't even remember who Petaluma High was playing, but I do remember that the score was 21-19 or something like that, and I think Petaluma won, although by the end of the game I had long since lost interest in who won or lost.
A student, who by now is probably a grandmother, asked me how I would suggest she write about the game. My advice was, “Have fun with it. Don't take it too seriously.”
Fortunately, both myself and girls sports have matured over the last four decades. Girls sports are definitely serious business, and I have learned to appreciate the girls' skills, dedication and motivation every bit as much as I do the same qualities in boy athletes.
Last weekend, I did something that would have been unthinkable for me the first time around the Argus-Courier block — I chose to attend a girls softball tournament and assign the City Little League championship game to intrepid sports reporter George Haire.
The Petaluma Steal Breeze's Planet Tournament is an amazingly orchestrated tournament that involves 24 teams playing in three different age brackets. For three days, two very long, Prince Park was a beehive of activities with kids of all ages and parents of all descriptions scurrying between three diamonds.
Travel ball teams, both softball and baseball, are used to these kinds of tournaments, but to me it was a revelation. If the people who put on the Steal Breeze Tournament ran the airlines, there would be no flight delays.
The quality of play wasn't so much a revelation as a reaffirmation for me.
It is no wonder that the Petaluma high school softball teams are so dominant — league championships for Petaluma and St. Vincent, an NCS championship for St. Vincent, and Petaluma, St. Vincent and Casa Grande all in the NCS playoffs.
The young girls playing on the Steal Breeze competitive teams are talented. They know the game and the competition is very good.
The Steal Breeze 10-unders won their age bracket largely because Jaden Krist was the most dominating pitcher in the tournament. In one game, she struck out 11 of 12 batters to face her and got the 12th on a weak grounder to second after getting two quick strikes.
But the Breeze is more than a one-girl team. They hit from top of the order to their bench players and, unlike much of their young competition, they can catch pop-ups and fly balls.
The Steal Breeze's other two tournament entries had deceiving records.
The 12-under team ran into a tough inning in a 12-8 loss to the Sonoma Dragons in their first game, and, after beating the Rohnert Park Rebels in the first-round of the playoffs, ran into another tough inning and a hot-hitting Santa Rosa Hacker team in the semifinals and were eliminated, 8-2.
The Steal Breeze 14-under team had even tougher luck. The only team that really beat them was the Sonoma Dragons. Their other losses were 5-4 to the Rohnert Park Rebels and 7-6 in the first round of the playoffs to the Foster City Flash in a game that went extra innings.
Just a couple of random observations. The parents were friendly enough and well behaved, but they really shouldn't coach the kids while the game is being played.
This is a conversation I overheard, fortunately not from a Petaluma mother:
“Katie, move in closer.”
“This to a little right fielder. “Move in! Move in! I want you to see some action.”
Fun to watch Casa Grande head varsity baseball coach Paul Maytorena coach third base for the Rohnert Park 10-under team. I don't think he set the team strategy. I didn't see the girls bunt once. His daughter, Tatum, is an impressive 9-year-old pitcher who can already throw a change-up.
One umpire worked the round-robin games, and did an excellent job. I saw a very few missed calls and no complaints from the coaches.
Interesting to see several girls wearing protective face masks in the field, not only infielders, but also a few outfielders. The masks didn't seem to bother them a bit.
All in all, a very good weekend.
(Contact John Jackson at email@example.com)
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