By Ray Hamill — An exciting couple of months of local youth softball concluded over the weekend with the Humboldt Fastpitch end-of-season tournament.
Champions were crowed in four different divisions, with 37 teams featuring almost 400 players from throughout the North Coast competing.
And huge crowds were on hand at Newburg Park and Rohner Park in Fortuna to take it all in.
“Right now, there’s a lot of momentum for softball,” league founder and president Kelly Wolfe Helms said. “It’s super exciting. There’s lots of commitment and we’ll see where it goes.”
The number of young girls competing this year was well up from the 375 that signed up the last time the league played in 2019, and among the most ever to play in one year.
In the 15U Gold championship game, Mallorie Beauchamp and Faith Helms led the way as the Smash defeated the Crush 7-5.
Baeauchamp was the winning pitcher, while Holmes provided the offensive highlight of the game with a home run.
Mckennah Sargeant pitched well in the loss for the Crush, with the game not ending until 10 p.m.
In the 11U Gold bracket, Callen McCollough was the winning pitcher as the Fire beat the Edge 6-2 in the championship game.
Jozlyn Dahl pitched well for the Edge in the loss.
In the 15U Silver bracket, the Fire beat the Tsunami in the decider, while the the 11U Tusnami beat the Storm in their championship showdown.
MIST to begin play this weekend
Many of the local players will now turn their attention to the travel team season which gets under way this coming weekend.
The Mad River MIST will field four teams competing in approximately four tournaments each over the next two months, with a huge turnout of 100 girls trying out for the program recently.
The teams competing include 10-year-olds, 12s, 14s and 16-18s.
Several local high school and college standouts will be playing, including College of the Redwoods pitcher Makayla Bernald, an Arcata High graduate, as well as a pair of Fortuna’s Renee Metz and Libby Johnston, each of whom were all-league selections this year.
The program has been helping players in the area hone their skills for several years, including Fresno State standout Hailey Dolcini, who was one of 25 finalists for college player of the year this spring.
Five of the six College of the Redwoods players to receive all-conference honors this spring also come through the club.
Other local players expected to play a big role for the travel teams this summer include the talented Del Norte duo of Lexi Heuberger and McKenna Curtis, as well as Eureka’s Kaitlin Giacone.
The 16/18s are coached by Fortuna High head coach Eric Helms and will compete in Sacramento this weekend.
All four MIST teams will feature a travel roster of 12, but the coaches will accommodate several additional players on their practice squads.
“We have quite a few up-and-coming high school kids,” Kelly Wolfe Helms said. “And quite a few eighth graders. We’re very open to including any players who want to maintain and improve their softball skills.”
The 14s also will be in action this weekend at Danville, while the 10s will compete in Sacramento.
The 12s will begin their summer season next weekend, also in Sacramento.
The MIST also plan on hosting a tournament for all four age groups in late July/early August.
The local fastpitch association is also looking for additional umpires, and anyone interested is encouraged to contact the league through its Facebook page.