Andrea Lawless, the coach of the 12-and-under All-Star Gold team in Poway Girls Softball League, has a saying her players hear all the time.
“Trophies are earned in practice,” Lawless has said a few hundred times.
This year, after her players were sidelined all last season because of the coronavirus, there have been plenty of trophies for the 12U gold squad.
Now 27-6 for the All-Star season, the Poway Gold team has competed in six tournaments and come away with tournament titles in four of those — the San Dieguito Memorial Weekend Tournament, the Corky Rusell Tournament in East County, the Chino Hills Tournament and an invitational tournament at Kit Carson Park last weekend — setting the stage to win the District championship and advance to the SoCal B State Tournament, this Friday through Sunday in Lancaster.
Poway has also received an at-large berth in the national championships, July 19-25 in Roseville, California.
“Coming out of COVID in 2020, we lost quite a few players to travel ball this season,” Lawless said. “Girls all over Poway just wanted to play.
“Some of our players have been playing for me since 8U,” Lawless said. “The girls are very good, but very humble as well.”
Poway’s highlight from last weekend in Escondido was pitcher Marissa Sloss’ perfect game in pool play against Torrence.
Lawless pointed out her team has a trait of responding with lots of runs after giving up a run during All-Star play that began May 21.
“This group came from a culture in the community to grow the talent and gives kids a chance to learn the game,” Lawless said.
Her team’s batting average was .378 heading into last weekend’s tournament at Kit Carson Park.
Poway’s offense has scored more than 230 runs, an average of almost nine runs per game.
Zoey Meadows, a pitcher-third baseman, pitched a complete game in the District finals, a 7-6 win over North Shore.
Evie Brown is a left fielder, shortstop and a catcher. She moved in from left field to catch all six District games and the leadoff hitter is batting .481.
Audrey Lawless, the coach’s daughter, is also a third baseman-pitcher who hit .481 and tops the team in RBIs.
Ava Cafagna plays shortstop and is hitting .403 from the cleanup spot.
Nadiya Dorado is hitting .400, but leads the team in walks.
Tessa Foust is what Lawless calls a rally starter with a .474 average.
Izzy Kayser is hitting .421, but her brightest moment was a home run in the San Dieguito Tournament.
One of the team’s shortest players, Makayla Latker is hitting over .300.
Ronni Peck, the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, is hitting a solid .416.
“COVID made this whole season a mystery bag,” Andrea Lawless said. “The girls have learned to grind out every out.
“Sometimes, we have to put the wheels back on after a bad inning, but they know that,” she said. “Nothing panics them.
“It is awesome to see the girls having fun after being locked up for so long because of the virus,” she added.
Lawless was able to put together a series of rec games involving teams from Scripps Ranch, Escondido, 4S Ranch and Rancho Bernardo prior to the start of All-Star play.
Now comes fundraising for both the State and week-long national championships, meaning this season is a long way from concluding.
As for other Poway teams, its 10U Silver played in Lancaster last weekend after winning two games in the District Tournament before suffering two losses, but receiving a berth in the State Tournament.
In the State Tournament, Poway Silver won its first game before losing its next two to conclude its All-Star season with a 14-10-1 record.