MOUNTAIN AREA – This summer for the first time, a group of mountain area girls, age 10 and under, are competing against same-age girls from much larger schools in a series of softball tournaments taking place around the central valley and beyond.
The young foothill-area females are part of Yosemite Girls Softball League (YGSL) Travel Ball Club, and if their team name is any indication, these kids have a lot of heart.
The YGSL “Krusherz” team is made up of girls from Oakhurst, Spring Valley, Northfork, Coarsegold, Rivergold and Wasuma schools.
Sure, they may have team meetings with ice cream cones in hand and take their practice on a slip ‘n slide some days, but make no mistake: the Krusherz are serious athletes out to rule. It may just take awhile.
YGSL is a girls’ fast pitch softball league for ages 8-14. The groundbreaking Krusherz includes kids who’ve been playing for as many as 6 years and others who are relatively new at the sport. Five members of the team are former league champions in Coarsegold as part of the infamous Bobkittens.
Head Coach Patrick Flanagan is guiding the Krusherz in their first season as a team and his first time as a parent coach. Flanagan is a former Yosemite High School Varsity Baseball MVP who batted .481 for the North Sequoia League champs.
“This is the first time we have ever had a 10-under travel team,” explains Flanagan. “It’s a big deal because it’s a new program. Expectations are humble for this year, but we will win state when they get to high school,” he predicts.
“We practice twice a week and many kids and coaches volunteer extra time,” says the father of three girls, including Krusherz infielder/pitcher Cait.
Last weekend the Krusherz played a double elimination tournament with 18 teams from all around the valley. They were beat by Hanford 9-2 and Tulare 12-1.
“We got smoked!” laments Flanagan, but the team kept a positive attitude. There were many highlights, including some solid pitching, good swings and a few hits, and lots of hustle. Everyone concerned was proud of the team.
This weekend the girls have a tournament in Selma.
The fledgling Krusherz are grateful for their sponsors, including the Lawson Group, Old Frontier Family transportation, and Palm Desert Signarama (Signarama thanks to the coach’s brother, Terry Flanagan).
First year coach and YGSL Board member Tami Franke says sponsorship has tremendous value to the league, and the Krusherz are seeking additional support.
“Part of the goal with sponsors is to get the registration fee lowered, if possible,” says Franke, mother of two including Krusherz catcher/pitcher Holly Hurtado. “We’d like the price to be more affordable and with more sponsorship we may be able to reduce the cost.”
The YGSL is also looking to raise money for new equipment (softballs are $8 each) and dirt to re-do the fields in preparation for next season, according to Franke, who pitched for Laton High School and recently moved to Coarsegold from Madera Ranchos.
“The value of sports is about leadership, responsibility and to get kids focused on something besides video games and running around the streets,” Coach Franke says, “and for working together as a team.”
Go get ’em, Krusherz!
Rileigh Azavedo – Utility player
Caitlin Flanagan – Infielder/Pitcher
Holly Hurtado -Catcher/Pitcher
Alivia Sweeney – Shortstop/Pitcher
Kacey Corneal Pitcher/3rd base
Deja Speak – 2nd Base
Ainslee Phillips – Centerfield
Emma Smith – Left field
Kaelyn Kolberg – Utility player
Madison Morris 1st Base/Pitcher