HUNTINGTON BEACH - The Central California Dirtdogs 18-and-under Gold team placed third out of 90 teams at the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championships in Huntington Beach on July 26.
The Dirtdogs placed third place after an 8-6 loss to Select Fastpitch-Kansas. It was the Dirtdogs second loss which eliminated them from the double-elimination tournament. The Dirtdogs two losses were to both teams that played in the championship game.
It was the second-straight year that the girls took third place in the national tournament.
“We were proud of the way the girls played,” Dirtdogs coach Scott Gorton said. “A lot of our girls are graduating this year and they went out in a good way. We’re pretty happy for them.”
Kignsburg’s Carla Duarte and Marissa Montelongo along with Selma’s Dom Trevino and Clarissa Moreno were part of the travel ball team. The Dirtdogs 18u squad also included girls from Hanford West, Fowler, Buchanan, Redwood, and Lemoore high schools. Duarte and Trevino are recent graduates from their respective schools and will continue their softball careers at the next level. Duarte will join the softball team at Holy Names University in Oakland while Trevino will play for Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho.
Gorton said all four of the local girls were solid contributors throughout the tournament. Montelongo was the team’s leadoff throughout the tournament and was “outstanding” and “arguably” one of the team’s best players of the tourney, Gorton said. He added that Duarte reached base regularly, Trevino had some clutch hits, and Moreno had a solid defensive performance during the tourney.
The Dirtdogs started the tournament in the platinum championship B bracket with four-straight wins by outscoring its opponents 18-2. After a first round bye, the girls defeated Mountain West Fastpitch-Utah 3-0, followed a 6-2 victory over the Las Vegas Rage, then a 3-0 win over the Lady Shark Barrera-San Jose, and winning 6-0 over All-American Sports Academy (AASA) Macias.
In the quarterfinals, the Dirtdogs received its first loss in a 2-0 defeat to Iowa Premier, who eventually were the national champions.
The Dirtdogs played its first and only consolation game in the B bracket against the AASA, but it took clutch hitting to stay alive in the tournament. Duarte knocked in the game-winning run on single in the seventh inning for a 4-3 win. Hanford High's Allison Heffley tied the game 3-3 with a two-run home run in the sixth inning.
After the Dirtdogs fell to Select Fastpitch, the latter lost 5-2 to Iowa Premier in the finals.
For this current Dirtdogs team, it was the last tournament that this group of girls will play together, as the majority of the players will move on to college and the rest will enter their senior year of high school.
Gorton said this team was a “close-knit group.”
“A lot of these girls have played together since they were probably 9 or 10 years old,” Gorton said. “For them to come together in their last go around in travel ball and do as well as they did was pretty neat for them and for us coaches as well.”
Gorton has coached the majority of the players since they were in eighth grade. Gorton is also the head coach of the softball program at Central High School. Assistant coach (and former Hanford West head coach) Russ Heffley has coached most of this Dirtdogs team since they were around 9 to 10-years-old.
“We’ve been with them a long time, so it’s going to be hard. We’re going to miss them,” Gorton said. “They’ve been loyal and they’ve been very good players for us for a long time. It’s going to be hard to replace them.”
The Central California Dirtdogs-Kubo 16u team also played in Huntington Beach, placing fifth out of 90 teams at the PGF National Championships on July 26.
The Dirtdogs placed fifth after a 4-2 finish and losing its final two games of the double-elimination tournament.
Taryn Irigoyen and Blaire Willson of Kingsburg and Marissa Cerda of Selma were part of the Dirtdogs 16u team.
The first loss to the Dirtdogs was a 4-0 defeat to the Monarchs Gold, who eventually won the championship. The Dirtdogs were eliminated with a loss to the Washington Ladyhawks Breer. That result was not available to the Enterprise Recorder.
The Dirtdogs started the tournament by going 4-0 in the platinum championship B bracket. The girls defeated Hot Shots Platinum-Texas 3-1, followed by a 5-4 win over Texas Glory, then a 3-0 victory over Tennessee Fury, and topping Firecrackers Pantages 5-2 for its final win of the tourney.
The 16u squad is coached by former Selma High head coach Kellen Kubo, who currently holds the same position at Clovis East.