Gilbert Softball Little League had not one but two squads take home championships in state tournaments this month.
The league’s 10-11 and 11-12 all-star squads took home championships in their respective groups, with the 10-11 team winning the state title for the second year in a row. The softball players, consisting of the top players in the league, won in fairly convincing fashion; 10-11 head coach Brian Schmidt said the all-stars won the title game 23-1 to a team that only lost to Gilbert.
“It was amazing, it was fun. We can always say we won a state title,” said pitcher Sydney Babik.
Babik was one of the team’s stronger players, as was fellow 10-year-old and Brian Schmidt’s daughter, Morgan. Brian Schmidt said both excelled at the plate in their first season on the 10-11 team. Morgan Schmidt said the highlight for her came during the last out, when she snared a line drive that came right at her from the plate to secure the victory.
The all-star tournaments are tricky for teams because the players get approximately five weeks to know each other after spending the regular season playing against one another. Schmidt emphasized it takes a lot of dedication to spend approximately two-thirds of a summer playing softball. What the experience did, he said, is provide a strong connection between the players, coaches and parents. Babik added that the experience provided her an opportunity to make a few new friends as well, a sentiment shared by her teammate.
“I liked getting to know some girls I didn’t know before,” Morgan Schmidt said.
With two consecutive state titles under their belts, the question becomes if the 10-11 team can make it a three-peat in 2015. Both Babik and Morgan Schmidt should return for another run-through, meaning the 10-11 all stars have a pretty solid shot as long as they put in the necessary effort and practice.
“From the beginning when we step on the field to the end, I think we can,” Morgan Schmidt said.
The championship game marked the end of the season for the 10-11 team, but the 11-12 softball players advanced to the Little League Softball West Regional Tournament in San Bernardino, Calif., which began July 18. The team finished 2-2 in pool play, losing to Northern and Southern California 17-6 and 14-0, respectively, but besting Hawaii 10-0 and Nevada 17-0.