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LOS ALAMITAS – A few bold steps into the Los Alamitas softball dugout are beginning to reveal the secrets of one of the most amazing races since the season.
Players dressed in matching red training shirts and visors are quick to showcase the costume accessories they use in the dugout to show off their team spirit and unity during games.
There’s a red-and-white-and-blue cowboy hat. Plastic, heavy chain. A copy of the gold title belt and a shiny crown with multicolored jewelry.
All from the collection of senior pitcher Eli Robbins. And combined with shouts and applause from a roster of nearly 25 players, the Griffins (26-7) unforgivably expressed themselves during a run on Saturday night in the CIF-SS Division 1 final against Roosevelt (26-3).
The game is scheduled at Dean Manning Stadium in Bill Barber Park in Irvine at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re a very nasty team,” Robbins said, causing laughter from her teammates. “We are very happy here.”
But most importantly, the players say, they contacted to have fun and advance in the Heavy Division 1, even though they were not ranked in the Division 1 final poll.
Junior third base Gisele Alvarez knows how to explain the madness in the dugout.
After beating a three-run home run in the semifinals on Saturday to help the Griffins stun top-seeded and undefeated Ox-Christians 4-0, she put around a “home run chain” at the celebration.
“It just boosts our energy, and it’s just what you’re looking forward to,” said Alvarez, a junior devoted to Washington. “The chain is a huge reward. It’s weird. “
Taylor Johnson from first base said her previous teams in Los Alamitas were enthusiastic and close, but not quite like in the 2022 edition.
“Every year (the level) just increases,” said Johnson, a senior cadet in San Diego. “Our team is very good now. On and off the field we are all friends. We all hang out. We enjoy each other’s presence, so I feel this year is extremely special. ”
So is the chemistry between the players and veteran coach Rob Weil.
In August, he left the Firecrackers tour team and began his own program for the first time. This is called Wildcats.
Several Los Alamites players are also part of the club, whose partners include coach Weil and Marina Dan Hay, also president of Premier Girls Fastpitch.
Players include Johnson, Robbins, Jazz Santos, Kelly Fitzpatick, Juliet Holcomb, Terin Clements and Diamond Seef. Second-base freshman Isabella Rodriguez plays for another Wildcats team.
“It definitely affected us as players and as people,” Johnson said of playing for Weil, a six-time CIF-SS champion. “We learn from him all the time.”
On the field, one of the main keys to the Griffins was the appearance of pitcher Sydney Soldana, Weil said.
The senior in Utah used his location and ability to throw multiple pitches at different speeds to advance to the playoffs of highly respected pitchers such as senior Micaela Castor of Ox Christian and Beaumont sophomore Cumbria Salmon.
Saldana said she and the Griffins were fueled by a 15-1 defeat by Nork in the playoffs last season. She started in a circle for the quarterfinal game, living through a motivational sign in Los Alamitas.
“This year has been kind of groundbreaking for me,” said Saldana, who climbed to Los Alamitas, admiring jugs like Sarah Led and Tyler Denhart. “I definitely feel like an outsider, but if you keep winning, then suddenly you’re not an outsider anymore.”
This outsider mentality pushes Los Alamitas as a team. The Griffins have captured Huntington Beach and finished second in the Surfing League and reached the playoffs without much anticipation of recent seasons.
In 2020, Los Alamitas ranked 1st in the country according to MaxPreps when the pandemic ended the season. The Griffins were national champions in 2017 after winning Division 1.
“We flew under the radar all year,” Weil said. “This is one of the things that helped us. We didn’t have the pressure to reach the playoffs. “
A lot of bright props and energy in the dugout also helped.