After making it through qualifying tournaments at the area, district, and state level, the Rialto ASA Girls 14U Softball all-star team is moving on to the 52-team National Championships in La Habra from July 26-31 at La Bonita Park. It will open the double elimination play on July 27 against Diamond Bar. Rialto manager Joseph Rodriguez said his team performed some remarkable plays on its way to the Nationals. It won the Northeast District championship played in Beaumont after winning pitcher Joslyn Robertson hit a game-winning walk off grand slam home run in the title game. The district is comprised of teams from Ontario to Beaumont.
The Rialto 14-year-old all stars who are now 8-2, also displayed some dramatics in a pre-tournament game at Murrieta the week before when it completed a game-saving triple play. Rodriguez explained the rare 8-6-2 triple play as follows: with no outs and runners on second and third in the seventh inning, center fielder Adina Arrington caught a flyball, then immediately threw to Kailey Kesterson who tagged the runner off the bag at second base. Kesterson then rifled a throw home to catcher Kellie Rivera who tagged out the runner trying to score from third. The heads up play ended the game to preserve a 7-5 victory. “I had never seen a triple play before,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez admitted nobody thought his team had the ability to advance this far in the post season. He agreed with the doubters after watching his team fumble away easy plays and generally show a lack of interest. “I didn’t think we were going far until opponents started falling like dominos. Now, I honestly think we can win the National Tournament. We have a mixture of speed and power.” Rodriguez said something clicked and the team started hitting and making fundamentally sound plays on defense. The team really turned it around by qualifying for the Nationals by finishing eighth out of 32 teams in the State Championships in Lancaster. It does help that the Rialto All-Stars practice five days per week.
Rodriguez said it’s no secret that Kellie Rivera is the team’s leading run-producer and Kailey Kesterson gets the offense started by batting leadoff. Speedy Lyric Torres often puts Kesterson in scoring position with her ability to bunt for a base hit. Powerful third baseman Angelina Tinoco bats cleanup. Adina Arrington bats 5th; pitcher Joslyn Robertson hits 6th; followed by first baseman Diana Ruiz; left fielder Alissa Rodriguez; and second baseman Victoria Montoya.
Rodriguez says with the exception of his 13-year-old daughter, Alissa, who will enter the 8th grade, that most of his team will be ready to compete for starting jobs at Rialto or Carter High Schools this school year. He credited all-star coach Noe Tinoco and parents for creating positive team chemistry. The ASA Tournament website shows that teams will come to the National Championships from throughout the West, but Rodriguez said his team is close enough to La Habra that it will commute.