Boys of summer? These young sluggers would call that phrase old-fashioned.
Some of the best young softball players in Davis also will spend their summer on the diamond as the Davis Youth Softball Association fields a pair of all-star tournament teams.
Coaches John Eisele (of the 10U squad) and Lyn Christopulos (of the 14U team) want the experience to be rewarding for the local girls, who will navigate weekend tournaments for the next few weeks. Both teams competed at the American Softball Association Championships in Sacramento last weekend.
For the younger girls, the summer tournament season is a chance to compete at a higher level and an opportunity to fall in love with the game:
“I hope the girls will (learn) more about the strategy of the game, improve their playing skills to a higher level, build self-confidence and understand the importance of working together as a team,” Eisele told The Enterprise last week. “Hopefully, they end this all-star experience with a positive attitude and an insatiable appetite for more softball.”
The coach — who assisted with the Killer Pandas during the spring season — added that he is already seeing that hunger to improve as the 10U team practices and plays. At last weekend’s tournament, the locals defeated Folsom, 9-6, in pool play but dropped their other two contests.
“They really want to improve their game and play with incredible intensity,” Eisele said. “They are very hard on themselves and when there are setbacks or mistakes made, they really take it to heart. It’s amazing to see the progress they make in a short-time frame.”
Eisele and assistants Bill Imamoto, Pete Beal and Tommy Jones have already seen that improvement from their entire roster, which is made up of Brooke Imamoto, Zoe West, Kat Eisele, Maya Zingaro, Lizzy Jones, Jordan Zuniga, Grace Hartsough, Sophie Purves, Surina Beal, Hall Gabriel, Sarah Griffiths, Madison Rutherford and Layla Fitch.
Upcoming events for the 10U squad include this weekend’s Davis/Dixon tourney and a NorCal tournament in Elk Grove July 13-14.
The older DYSA all-stars, despite playing at the 14U level, aren’t really that much older. To make a full all-star team, five girls from 12U were brought on.
And while that made the locals a lot less experienced than some of their opponents, it hasn’t slowed their drive to get better.
“We have won one game in 11 starts but you’d never know it by looking in the eyes of these young ladies,” Christopulos said last week. “They have incredible resilience … and they know it’s still a game. They love softball … and have developed great chemistry.”
And it’s not all moral victories for the 14U all-stars, who posted a win over Sunrise at last weekend’s tournament and nearly won three games at an event earlier this summer. At that tourney, the locals defeated Pocket and dropped one-run games to Elk Grove and Roseville squads that each made final-inning comebacks.
It won’t be a surprise if Christpulos’ girls turn things around. During the spring, his Davis Queens lost four of their first five games before winning four of their last five contests.
With the aid of assistant coaches Bill Sutcliff and Eric Herrgesell, “special help” from Gary Bernauer, the work of team manager/coach’s wife Jennifer and the strong play of team members Caylee Ade, Rachel Bernauer, Jessica Christopulos, Rebeca Engelhard, Samantha Griffiths, Hannah Herrgesell, Lili Kunimoto, Brianna LaVergne, Kendall Martinez, Claire Mitchell, Sabina Padilla, Abby Sutcliffe and Kaylee Velasquez, don’t bet against a big improvement by season’s end.