The weather hasn't been all that warm this summer, but the Heat definitely has been on when it comes to softball. The Palo Alto 12U Heat, in fact, just captured its division championship at the annual Wess Jones Memorial Tournament in South San Jose this past weekend.
The Heat went 5-1, starting with a 2-1 mark in pool play before sweeping its final three games on Sunday against some of the top teams in the area to claim the title.
Palo Alto opened the tourney with an 8-5 win over the Campbell Crush and then lost to the San Jose Quicksilver, 9-6. The Heat bounced back with a 5-1 triumph over the Los Gatos (Silver) Magic to earn a berth in the championship round.
On Sunday, the Heat took care of the Branham Hills Thunder, 11-4, before edging the previously unbeaten San Mateo Slammers, 5-4, to earn a berth in the finals. In the title game, Palo Alto handed the Los Gatos (Teal) Magic its first loss, 6-4.
While every member of the Heat contributed to the team title, Palo Alto pitcher Megan Ostrom was a standout as she pitched all three games on Sunday due to an injury suffered by the team's other pitcher. Meanwhile, catcher Lauren Graf caught all six games for Palo Alto and threw out one player attempting to steal. She also contributed to the Heat's offensive attack and was recognized for her sportsmanship by the tourney sponsor San Jose Quicksilver team.
Other Heat team members included Jesse Kim, Megan McKinney, Teddie Stewart, Anna Tavania, Bryce Rockwell, Catherine Schwarzwalder, Kate Wang, Rowan Lee, Amy Best, Jennie Han, Joanna Falla and Jolie Kemp. Palo Alto is now 19-11 on the season.
Late last month, the Heat went 4-2 at the regional NorCal qualifying tournament and finish sixth out of 25 teams. While the top five teams qualified for the California State Championships in San Diego in August, one squad dropped out and Palo Alto earned a trip.
The Heat is made up of sixth and seventh graders from Palo Alto and Portola Valley who play in the Palo Alto Girls Softball spring recreation league. The girls try out for the team at the end of the spring season and play competitive tournaments from Memorial Day until early August.
The Palo Alto Babe Ruth 15-year-old all-stars remained alive in the NorCal State Tournament by beating Elk Grove National, 8-2, on Monday in the consolation bracket at Bartholomew Sports Park in Elk Grove.
Christian Kurtela threw a complete-game four-hitter and struck out the side in the top of the seventh to record the victory. Kurtela helped his cause with a RBI triple in the first that scored James Foug, who had tripled right before Kurtela's at-bat.
Foug, Kurtela and Daniel Tachna-Fram all had two hits as Palo Alto led through out -- breaking open the game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning when Alec Furrier's drive to right got by the right fielder, allowing both Chris Lee and Foug to score. When Elk Grove mishandled the relay throw, Furrier raced around to score, as well.
Palo Alto next will play Sonoma on Tuesday in an elimination game at 5 p.m. Palo Alto still needs to win four straight games, including two on Thursday, to advance.
In Woodland, the Palo Alto 14s didn't win their game against Sonoma on Monday or lose it. The game was suspended in the top of the 6th after the lights were turned off at 10:30 p.m. with Sonoma holding a 16-11 lead. The game will resume Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Gunn High's Cadence Lee finished fourth in the 108-pound division at the ASICS/Vaughan Junior & Cadet National Championships over the weekend in Fargo, N.D.
Reaching the third-place match against Haley Moreno of Texas, Lee suffered a 5-0 setback. Nonetheless, Lee was the top finisher from California in her weight division and helped her state finish second to Hawaii in the team competition.