The comeback girls

Irvine softball All-Star team has improved dramatically the past three years and will play in Western National tournament Aug. 1-7.

July 23, 2011|By Joe Haakenson, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • Pitcher Trina "Torpedo' Hoang delivers a pitch.
Pitcher Trina "Torpedo' Hoang delivers a… (Courtesy Anthony…)

Greg Sasaki likes to say his 8-and-under Silver All-Stars in the Irvine Girls' Softball Assn. (IGSA) were a "perfect" 0-18.

That's 0 wins and 18 losses.

But the team he started coaching three years ago that included his daughter, Hannah, has improved, big time.

Sasaki's team is now the 10U Gold All-Stars of the IGSA, and it will play in the Western National Championships in Clovis from Aug. 1-7, having qualified two weekends ago when it placed third in the California state tournament in Lancaster.

Sasaki's girls are 25-8 this season, marking a third consecutive season of improvement. As the 8U Gold All-Stars, they won five games, then last year they won 13 games as the 10U Silver All-stars.

This season, they won two tournaments and placed second in the district tournament before going 6-2 in the state tournament for the third-place finish.

They have a chance to win the Western Nationals, a tournament that will include teams from California, Hawaii, Washington, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, but Sasaki likes to keep that 0-18 team in mind.


"It's interesting because whenever we'd lose a game, say it was 10-0, they'd ask, 'Did we win?' " Sasaki said. "With these young girls, they don't realize they're losing. We had a rule — don't talk about the score. When they'd ask for the score, I'd say, 'We just play softball. I'll tell you the score when we're done.' "

Sasaki never let his girls feel down, even though they were not just losing, they were losing ugly. The league has a four-runs maximum-per-inning rule, and his team needed it.

"In the beginning, we'd give up the max four runs every inning, and then the inning would be over," Sasaki said. "Eventually, we didn't allow a max four runs one inning, we got them out, and I said OK, we're getting better. We'd always talk about the positives.

"These girls just needed time to catch up. I believed in them. Keep working hard and we'll get better."

The improvement Sasaki's team has made can be measured in more than just wins and losses, but how it improved against one team in particular.

"We played one game where the ump said, 'Can we just end this game?' " Sasaki recalled. "We couldn't get anybody out. So I said, sure, and it was over."

That team was Rancho Trabuco, a team that Sasaki's team beat this year in the district tournament, signifying a complete turnaround.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles