Triple Crown is pleased to announce the all-tournament teams for the 14u, 16u and 18u divisions of the TC Nationals, featuring 14u MVP, Mia Valbuena, 16u MVP, Kaimi Tulua, and 18u MVP, Jocey Erickson. The full all-tournament teams can be found below:
18u All-Tournament Team
Jocey Erickson (MVP), Batbusters Stith, C
Taylor Shumaker, Batbusters Stith, OF
Alexis Ramirez, Batbusters Stith, C
Ryan Maddox, Batbusters Stith, P
Karlie Davison, Batbusters Stith, 2B
Ailana Agbayani, Batbusters Stith, P/SS
Jordan Woolery, Athletics Mercado/Smith, 3B
Lauryn Borzilleri, Athletics Mercado/Smith, 2B
Cambria Salmon, Athletics Mercado/Smith, P
Dakota Kennedy, Lady Magic – Munoz, CF
Raimy Gamsby, Lady Magic – Munoz, P
Olivia Dinardo, Warrior Academy McDonald, C
Olivia Laney, Warrior Academy McDonald, P
Selena Perez, Arizona Storm Premier Telesco, SS
Meeya Johnson, Arizona Storm Premier Telesco, OF
Justice Alcaraz, Firecrackers Brashear, P
Kyra Chan, Firecracker Brashear, CF
Ramsey Suarez, Athletics Mercado – Ornelas, 1B
Mylina Garza, LTG 18G Henderson, 3B
Emma Fales, Grapettes 18u Gold – Miranda, P/1B
Devin Bowman, AZ Hotshots Gold – Davis/Downes, SS
16u All-Tournament Team
Kaimi Tulua (MVP), Warrior Academy Jimenez, 1B
Paige McLeod, Warrior Academy Jimenez, P
Taylor Faga, Warrior Academy Jimenez, 3B
Mia Phillips, Warrior Academy Jimenez, 2B
Mia Rodriguez, Warrior Academy Jimenez, OF
Brianne Weiss, BSC Bengals Briggs 16u, P
Natalia Hill, BSC Bengals Briggs 16u, 2B
Ashleigh Mejia, BSC Bengals Briggs 16u, OF
Marissa Quintero, Wildcats Del Campo/Weil, P
Savannah Patino, Wildcats Del Campo/Weil, SS
Jiselle Hernandez, Corona Angels Howard 16u, SS
Tiara Westbrook, Corona Angels Howard 16u, OF
Kolbi Kochi, CA Bombersw 16u – AK, UT
Mackenzie Phillips, Washington Ladyhawks 16u Seeley, C
Emma Urban, Power Surge Walling/Wilson, P
Katine Dunakin, Power Surge Walling/Wilson, P
Gracie Goewey, Cal Nuggets Woods, P
Rae D’Amato, Cal Nuggets Woods, 2B
Mallory Wheeler, Louisville Lady Sluggers Murphy, P
Jaida Fulcher, Lady Magic Boykin, 3B
14u All-Tournament Team
Mia Valbuena (MVP), Athletics Mercado 2025 Tidd, P
Thimir Bracamontes, Athletics Mercado 2025 Tidd, SS
Taelyn Holley, Athletics Mercado 2025 Tidd, OF
Ki’ele Ho-Ching, Athletics Mercado 2025 Tidd, 2B
Victoria Guzman, Athletics Mercado 2025 Tidd, OF
Arrianna Romero, Athletics Mercado Berni, P
Jadyn Shin, Athletics Mercado Berni, P
Charli Calas, Athletics Mercado Berni, 1B
Sophie Razo, Athletics Mercado Berni, OF
Kendall Cochran, Rogue FC Mabrey, P
Violet Mitchell, Rogue FC Maybrey, P
Alyssa Grajeda, OC Batbusters Stith, 1B
Paityn Lavin, OC Batbusters Stith, P
Sophia Cardinale, Cal Nuggets Woods, P
Jaim Oakland, Cal Nuggets Woods, OF
Taylor Mediano, Wildcats Weil/Kingergy/Terrones, P
Alexis Perez, Wildcats Weil/Kingergy/Terrones, P
Jennie Hernandez, Warrior Academy Jimenez, 3B
Aubree Baruch, Corona Angels Perez/Tyson, SS
Reese Westman, Washington Ladyhawks Wicker, 2B
Jocelyn Guzman, Athletics Jendro Premier, UT
CHINO HILLS, Calif. – There couldn’t have been a more fitting championship game on Sunday evening. What once looked like a relatively calm and straightforward game, quickly erupted into a roller coaster of emotions, with the backdrop of deafening roars from the stands, as Warrior Academy Jimenez and BSC Bengals Briggs traded haymakers over the final two innings of the 16u TC Nationals Championship that saw the Warrior Academy prevail, 5-4.
“This means everything,” Warrior Academy Head Coach James Jimenez said. “The outcome of this tournament and the girls playing this well, means everything to our program. This is our first year together. This tournament really set a spark for, not only winning this Nationals tournament, but our goals moving forward now.”
For a program that was established in 2021, when the West Bay Warriors and California Suncats merged, and for a team that was playing in its very first tournament with all these players together, things could have fallen apart for Warrior Academy in the sixth inning. The BSC Bengals jumped on Warrior Academy in the first inning with back-to-back doubles from Kate Verhoef and Natalia Hill, but Warrior Academy quickly settled down.
Warrior Academy responded in the top of the second inning with three straight singles, which allowed Amanda Beng to drive in a run with a sac-fly to right field. Then a double steal resulted in another run crossing the plate. In the top of the third inning, Warrior Academy added another run with an RBI single from Hannah Cushing. And there the game stood, with Warrior Academy holding a 3-1 advantage and consistently showcasing good pitching and even better defense to hold BSC Bengals at bay.
And then the sixth inning happened.
Hill got things started for the Bengals with a double. Then Ayla Tuua kept things going with a single. And then Madalyn Martin flipped the game on its head with a three-run home run to give the Bengals a 4-3 lead out of nowhere in the bottom of the sixth inning and put the Bengals three outs away from the championship.
Many teams would have folded. But not this Warrior Academy team.
“After that the run bomb by the Bengals, we just got back together and I told the girls ‘This is how champions are made,’” Jimenez said. “If you want to become a champion, you have to overcome moments like this. You have to forget what is happening and look forward and believe that we are champions, and we can do it.”
With their backs against the wall and momentum against them, Warrior Academy showed discipline and maturity at the plate well beyond their years. Tanaya Bryant gave the team some life with a single. Kaimi Tulua, named the 2022 TC Nationals Tournament MVP, then stepped up to the plate. BSC Bengals brought in a new pitcher to face Tulua, but Tulua would not be denied her MVP moment. Tulua saw the pitch she was looking for and launched a two-run home run over the left field wall to put Warrior Academy back in the lead and three outs away from the championship. There would be no come back in the bottom of the seventh inning for BSC Bengals as Paige Mcleod shut down the lineup to secure the 5-4 victory.
“She’s been hot all week,” Jimenez said of Tulua. “Ever since we went to Kansas City, she caught fire. She clutched up big back there, and we needed that moment. Big players rise to the occasion in big moments, and Kaimi Tulua did that. She’s a champ.”
Shumaker, Batbusters show depth of their skill set to claim 18u title at 2022 TC Nationals
By Kyle Koso
CHINO HILLS, CA – Taylor Shumaker said she’s been pressing lately, making it tough to perform the way she wanted for the 18u Batbusters Stith team.
She spent her day impressing as the championship bracket was decided for the 2022 TC Nationals.
Shumaker was an all-category force for the Batbusters with three hits, three runs and two RBI out of the leadoff spot, coupled with two heart-stopping catches at the centerfield fence. The last one robbed the Athletic of a home run and preserved her team’s lead in the seventh inning, and the Batbusters held on for a 7-5 victory over Athletics Mercado/Smith at the Chino Hills Community Park complex.
Alexis Ramirez (a UCLA commit) had two two-run singles; Sydney Saldana (Utah State) pitched into the sixth inning and Ailana Agbayani (BYU) came on in relief to notch huge strikeouts in her 1 1/3 innings to secure the win.
Shumaker’s first at-bat was a clinical exercise in leadoff hitting, working the count and seeing an assortment of pitches before lashing a double to the fence. Her two-run homer in the second pushed the Batbusters ahead, 5-0.
“I’ve been struggling with being patient with myself; I’ve been pushing for hits and wanting to get them so bad, I’ve been struggling,” she said. “I figured, it’s important once I got my opportunities to capitalize on it and be there for my team. I like hitting leadoff, I like taking pitches and I actually like not knowing what’s going to come. Over time, I knew what to prepare myself for, and I think it’s important to do that.”
Her seventh-inning catch was a true sacrifice-the-body decision as she reached over the fence to grab the ball before tumbling into the outfield barrier. The Athletics kept fighting and got runners on first and second with one out, but Agbayani got a strikeout and, fittingly, a fly ball to center caught by Shumaker as she sped in from her position.
“We were playing back in the outfield, knowing (the Athletics) can really hit, and honestly in my head I’m saying, I have to catch this ball,” Shumaker said. “To get the opportunity and to put it to use is pretty exciting.”
Persy Llamas hit a two-run homer for the Athletics in the third inning, and Brooklyn Lee’s homer in the sixth drew the score tighter, 7-5. To get out of the sixth, coach Mike Stith turned to two relievers, ultimately leaning on Agbayani to end the frame with a big strikeout.
“In the moment I’m just focusing on the batter and not what is surrounding me, the noise, just on every single pitch and that I hit my spots,” said Agbayani, the reigning Gatorade player of the year from Hawaii. “Every pitch is a new pitch; I do have to say thanks to Taylor for saving my butt out there. We take pride in our defense, picking each other up if someone makes an error. The biggest thing is to pick each other up.”
“This is an ongoing grind, a development process for all these kids, and Taylor has had her shares of ups and downs. But in the pressure of this moment it was wonderful to see her step up,” Stith said. “I mean, 3-for-4 batting to go with that (outfield) play? And she threw out a runner at the plate earlier – that was a pretty good day.
“I felt that Ailana’s senior leadership would be more effective. She has the composure, and whether they hit it or not is one thing, but we couldn’t be all over the place and not throw strikes. I let her give it a rip, and she’s a competitor.”
TC Nationals -- 16u Roundup
The four 16u teams that had byes into the quarterfinals at the TC Nationals event made great use of their advantage Saturday, with all four posting victories and earning their spot in the semifinals. The championship game is slated for 1:30 p.m. and will be streamed live by Athletes Go Live.
One semifinal features Wildcats Del Campo/Weil taking on Warrior Academy-Jimenez; the other game will have BSC Bengals Briggs taking on Corona Angels-Howard – the Angels rang up 19 runs in their quarterfinal victory.
TC Nationals -- 18u Roundup
The 18u championship bracket for the 2022 TC Nationals event has been carved down to its final four teams, all very familiar names in the softball world and all packed with players heading on to play at high-level college programs in the next year or two.
The semifinals will be held at 8 a.m. Sunday at the Chino Hills Community Park – Athletics Mercado/Smith, winners of the 18u Power Pool title at the 2022 Colorado 4th of July event, will take on Lady Magic-Munoz, a team that scored 16 runs in its quarterfinal win over Arizona Storm-Mathis. In the other matchup, Batbusters-Stith will face Warrior Academy-McDonald.
The championship game will be held at 10:30 a.m. and be streamed by Athletes Go Live.
MIRA LOMA, Calif. – Three up, three down. It was a pitcher’s duel worthy of the occasion when Mia Valbuena (Athletics Mercado 2025 Tidd) and Reece Uehara (OC Batbusters Lastrapes) squared off against each other in the quarterfinals of the TC Nationals. Valbuena ultimately came out on top as Athletics Mercado advanced to the semifinals on Sunday morning with a 2-0 win.
Valbuena pitched 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball with her only blemish of the day coming on the final out when a hit batter and a double put the Batbusters in scoring position for the first time all game. Ultimately though, it didn’t matter as Valbuena took complete control of the game from the start.
“She has multiple pitches that she throws, and when she’s on, she’s on,” Athletics Mercado head coach Brian Tidd said. “She’s been our number one all season, and these are the games that she’s meant to pitch in.”
With Valbuena dominating on the mound, it was up to Mercado’s offense to get rolling, but through three innings, the team only had a couple of singles to show for it.
“We hit a lot of balls up and out, and the wind was blowing the ball in,” Tidd said. “We had to change our mentality and just try to hit a lot of ground balls. The first few innings, we couldn’t get anything through. The last few innings we were finally able to find some holes and move some runners and we had a couple of key hits.”
In the fourth inning, however, Mercado found its opening. With the wind blowing in and the long ball not a realistic option, Athletics Mercado needed to find another way to manufacture runs. With runners on first and second, they did just that becoming ultra-aggressive on the basepaths with a double-steal. The move put the pressure on the Batbusters to execute, but a missed communication in covering third base led the baseball to be thrown into the outfield and allowing Kiele Ho-Ching to score. On the next play, Taylor Johns drove in a run with an RBI single to make it 2-0.
“I wanted the opportunity to get a kid in scoring position so a flyball could score a run,” Tidd said of the double-steal. “Fortunately for us, the rotation just wasn’t there 100% for them and we lucked out a little bit.”
That was all Valbuena and Athletics Mercado needed. Next up, Athletics Mercado will square off against OC Batbusters Stith on Sunday at 10:30 am for a spot in the championship.
“We are inning by inning, pitch by pitch,” Tidd said of the highly anticipated semifinal matchup. “We know them pretty well; they know us pretty well. I wouldn’t doubt that being a tight one tomorrow.”
Rogue FC Mabrey 14u had run-down start, now running wild in reaching TC Nationals semis
By Kyle Koso
MIRA LOMA, CA – A lot of pent-up production is now flowing freely for the Rogue FC Mabrey 14u squad.
After being outscored 16-1 in two Wednesday losses at the TC Nationals event, the Rogue have tapped into their better selves in making a run into the championship bracket semifinals, bouncing the OC Batbusters Hudson/Stern team by a 14-2 margin Saturday at the Big League Dreams-Riverside Complex. The Rogue have won four straight games and outscored their opponents, 46-11.
They’ll face Athletics Mercado/Berni on Sunday at 8 a.m. for a berth in the title game, set for 4:30 p.m. at Chino Hills Community Park.
Those first games in the tournament are really designed as practice games, but that didn’t make the sight of the struggles terribly comforting.
“We played everybody, tried to do some stuff, but at the end of the day we never got it going. It’s happened, but we are not a team that will ever quit or let one game define us,” said Rogue coach Todd Mabrey.
Saturday, both teams looked ready to dig in for the chance to advance, with the Rogue taking a 2-0 lead on an infield error with two outs in the second inning. Ashannalee Titiali singled and scored for the Batbusters in the third to make it 2-1, and the Rogue countered in the fifth on a run-scoring groundout from Sienna Caro, on a disciplined at-bat where she looked determined to keep the ball out of the air.
But the key play of the game arguably happened in the bottom of the fourth – right after the Rogue turned to relief pitcher Kendall Cochran, the infield turned an unlikely double play to end the frame.
“That was a huge energy breaker for the other team. And in our dugout, that’s what got us really hyped,” Caro said. “We had a rough start; the pitchers started really working hard and the dugout started giving more energy. That’s when we started hitting, and it was contagious.”
“That (double play) really helped; momentum switches are always a big key,” Mabrey added. “The girls are always ready, they know where to go with the ball and what to do with it, and I tip my hat to the girls for knowing what to do. Coach it up in practice, it comes through in the games.”
The score was still super tight, 3-2, when the Batbusters got an RBI double from Mattea Stern in the bottom of the fifth, but the dam burst impressively for the Rogue in the sixth as they plated 11 runs on seven hits, two walks and a couple of errors. The frame was capped by a grand slam off the bat of Charleigh Schuettler to center field.
“I was just waiting for my pitch today; I wasn’t going to swing at anything soft unless I was behind,” said Schuettler, who drove in two more runs with a double in the sixth. “I was looking to see it, drive it and put up some runs. Something has clicked for us – the bats are on fire, and we’re looking for our pitches and driving the ball.”
By Kyle Koso
LAKE ELSINORE, CA – For the Corona Angels-Howard 16u team, getting a leadoff batter on base happened exactly once Friday as they took on the NW Bullets-Muir team at the TC Nationals event, while the Bullets managed that on three occasions.
Making the most of rare opportunities ended up defining the moment for both teams at the Rosetta Canyon Sports Complex, with the Angels using that one window to climb through and into the championship bracket in posting a 1-0 victory. Starting pitcher Bridget Nemeth scattered six hits and two walks to go with seven strikeouts in seven innings to get the win for the Angels, who earned one of the top four seeds in the final bracket and will play at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for a chance to reach the semifinals.
The lone run came in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Jiselle Hernandez doubled to start the frame. One of the Angels’ best power hitters, Olivia Hill, showed her versatility and bunted for a single, and then Jayleen Hernandez followed with an opposite-field sacrifice fly to score the run. Hill capped the game with a diving, sprawling catch of a foul ball in left field for the final out.
Jayleen Hernandez looked very composed and prepared for her consequential at-bat that led to the RBI, having hit a ringing double in the second inning.
“That first at-bat, I was maybe lacking confidence because yesterday, I had a pretty bad day,” she said. “Today, I wanted to feel better about my swing, and I have been seeing the ball very well. Every pitch she’d thrown me had been outside, and she wouldn’t throw anything inside unless I had two strikes. I knew the next ball would be outside, too, so I just went with it.”
“We have a lot of energy together; we have this thing going on now with our water guns … whenever anyone hits a home run, we spray them, and that keeps the energy up.”
Energy, focus and a great mix of pitches characterized Nemeth’s work in the circle. Once she had a lead, she truly dug into the task, allowing just two hits and notching four strikeouts in the final three innings.
“I was trying to just keep throwing like I had been doing. The most important thing after we get a lead is to keep the momentum on our side,” Nemeth said. “People are going to get hits along the way; I just try to focus on getting outs. It doesn’t have to be a strikeout, because I know my defense will make the plays. A lot of time after someone got on, the next one would just hit a ground ball and we’d be fine.”
The Angels work with a roster of 22 players, and coach Kim Howard likes what happens when that large group has to dig and scrap for opportunities to shine.
“The girls compete at practice a lot, and they know if they don’t do their job someone else can step in and do it,” Howard said. “This game, our No. 5 batter (Hill), we might bring in someone else to put that bunt down, but she wanted that challenge. We took the bat out of the hands of someone who can hit a home run, and she made a perfect bunt.
“We won both games in pool play, both games yesterday. We did end up in the final day last year but finished fifth – we want to bring that up a bit higher this time.”
Karon Spadafora (a Seattle University commit) had two hits for the Bullets.
LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. – Playing in its second elimination game of the day, Power Surge Berndes/Trammell showcased its poise in a dominant 11-0 victory over USA Athletics, moving one win away from making the 16u Championship Bracket.
Sofia Mujica, one of the best power hitters in the state of California, regardless of class, led the way for Power Surge with six RBIs, including a grand slam in the fourth inning. Mujica got the scoring started for Mujica with an RBI double in the top of the first inning, driving in Caylene Nguyen.
“Sofia was huge for us,” Head Coach Ron Trammell said. “I’m surprised they are still pitching to her, but they are, and it makes everyone around her better. They just work harder when they see that level, and everyone else is just working harder to get to that level.”
In the second inning, Power Surge really took control of the game with six runs. Power Surge quickly loaded the bases with a single, double, and walk, leading to a two-RBI double from Mya McGowan to make it 3-0. Nguyen added an RBI single on the next at-bat, with another runner scoring on a throwing error, before Mujica drove in a run on an RBI single herself. Power Surge added another couple of hits in the inning to make it 7-0.
That was more than enough for Power Surge’s pitcher, Callie Christian. Christian looked in complete control pitching five shutout innings and only allowing a couple of baserunners in the game, with none threatening to score.
“Today we got great games from our two pitchers today,” Trammell said. “Callie was lights out. Defense was solid all day and we stayed true to who we are.”
In the fourth inning, Power Surge once again loaded the bases, but this time did its damage with the long ball when Mujica hit a grand slam, driving the ball about 30 feet over the left field wall. In its two elimination games on Friday, Power Surge was as dominant as it could have hoped for, outscoring its opponents 22-1 and rebounding nicely from a disappointing result on Thursday.
“That was huge, because yesterday we didn’t score a run,” Trammell said of his team’s two dominant performances on Friday. “We had a practice after the game, and the girls worked hard and it’s paying off. The girls came out swinging and they work hard.”
Power Surge will look to keep the good times rolling with another elimination game on Sunday at 8 am PT, this time against 5 Star PlayMakers, with the winner advancing to the 16u Championship Bracket.
No mystery here – Seva a severe challenge, pitches LTG 16u deeper into TC Nationals mix
By Kyle Koso
LAKE ELSINORE, CA – When a pitcher has to face an opposing lineup on consecutive days, there is no time to cook up a bunch of magical changes.
Making the old look new again – that’s the trick.
For the LTG Henderson/Lively 16u squad, pitcher Avery Seva figured out a way to do spell-binding work Friday in 16u action at the TC Nationals event, holding down Cal Nuggets Woods over seven tough innings in weighty weather conditions for a 4-1 victory at the Rosetta Park Sports Complex. LTG remains alive in the loser’s bracket and can claim a spot in the weekend’s championship chase with a win Saturday against NW Bullets-Muir.
Thursday, LTG got past the Nuggets by a 6-5 score, which meant Seva pulled off quite the surprise Friday by essentially shutting down foes who knew what she had up her dirty, sweaty sleeve.
“This is the hardest part of travel ball in the summer; we all get tired, pitchers get tired, so winning for my team and putting every energy into each pitch is the biggest thing I try to do,” said Seva, a Santa Clara commit who allowed four hits and two walks to go with six strikeouts over seven innings of determined work. “I felt petty solid; I knew it was a close game and they could come back at any moment. I still had to be very focused.”
“The (Nuggets) put together a strong performance against us earlier – for her to dig down and make some adjustments, well, she did a great job and has pitched well this whole tournament,” said LTG coach Joe Henderson. “It’s down to us needing to win to reach our goal, to play for the championship, and she’s really helped us get there.”
LTG jumped ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning when the first six batters reached base and Nailyn Marshall (Cal), Maddie Ullensvang and Sydney Barker had RBI hits. On the downside, two runners were thrown out on the base paths, minimizing what could have been a haymaker punch.
The game stayed tight and got even more snug when Carly Cummings tripled and scored in the fifth for the Nuggets.
“That’s a hard one. We tend to be very aggressive and we really push the envelope,” Henderson said. “This is a team that’s fun to watch because we try to do unique things. The Nuggets made a great relay on one play, perfect throw to get us out, but I’ll take that. I’ll do it over and over.”
In the hope for some elbow room on the scoreboard, Barker came through with a long, strong homer to left-center on an unfavorable count to push the score to 4-1 in the sixth inning.
“What happened in the first inning, I think that lit a fire under our butts. We knew we had to come back, make adjustments, and it motivated all of us to keep pushing,” Barker said. “On the (home run), I’ve been focusing on reading the pitch from the hip, reading the spin, and it was an 0-2 count. I was protecting, choking up a bit, looking to hit anything that was in the zone.”
“She has been really clutch for us in so many occasions and is definitely one of the leaders on this team,” Henderson added. “She plays a phenomenal shortstop; she plays with so much passion and made great strides. She’s a great hitter, and to put that on the scoreboard when she did gave us some breathing room.”
Tatum Silva (Utah State) had three hits for LTG.