SAN MARCOS — At the upper fields of Bradley Park, the 13- and 14-year-old girls making up the San Marcos Girls Softball 14U All Star team have been working hard for the past six weeks in hopes of making it to the national tournament.
After making significant improvements since last season, this year’s team has seen its goal realized. At the Southern California State B Tournament in Lancaster on July 8, the squad found itself in the top 12 teams, qualifying them for the B Western National Tournament.
The 14Us will travel to Corona for the five-day tournament beginning July 26, where they will face off against fellow qualifying California teams and teams from Arizona, Hawaii and Nevada.
Coach Raul Arce said the girls’ hard work over the past season has paid off, reaching the championships in nearly all of their SoCal tournaments this year. Many of them have played together for years on various teams and will be aging out of the league after this year as they enter high school.
“Most of these girls, it’s their first time going to nationals. Hopefully, that’s something they can look back on,” Arce said. “We’ve got as good a shot as any to win this thing.”
On Wednesday, the team could be seen talking and laughing despite the summer heat as they did their pre-practice drills, with the sounds of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” blasting from a speaker bringing even more energy.
Lyndsey Rogers, 14, said the team’s synergy on and off the field makes them successful.
“Our group has great chemistry together, and we communicate really well. When we’re on the field, we’re always talking to each other,” Rogers said.
Describing the upcoming nationals qualifier tournament, Delanie McKee, 13, said it’s special that she gets to go with her friends and teammates.
“I’m excited because we’ve been playing together a long time,” she said.
Western Nationals is also on the horizon for some of the younger San Marcos Girls Softball league members.
The 10U All Star team, composed of players ages 8-11, including a handful of younger sisters of 14U players, will head to Salem, Ore., for their division’s Western Nationals on July 25 after their successful season.
Assistant Coach Heather Bucaroff said the young players had made a huge effort this season, which earned them a spot at nationals.
“It’s amazing, just to see the talent these girls have, what they go through with 100-degree weather, battling these teams back from being down,” Bucaroff said. “They play well together; they get along together; they pick each other up. When one person gets a hit, another gets a hit — they really play off each other’s energy.”
In the weeks before the tournament, 10U players and parents could be seen fundraising with lemonade stands and flower sales all over the city, hoping to raise $10,000.
Mia Egoian, 9, joined her teammates in selling sunflowers outside of the Albertsons on Woodland Parkway on Wednesday, looking ahead nervously to her team’s tournament in Salem.
“I’m really excited, and I’m kind of scared. I know that there’s going to be really good teams there,” Egoian said.
However, knowing her team will be by her side comforts her.
“A lot of my closest friends are on my softball team. We play well; we communicate really well together on the field and stuff like that,” she said.