By Karen Billing
The first all-girls Rancho Santa Fe Little League team is holding its own in the rookie division. Named the Angels, the girls are currently in fourth place with their eyes on the playoffs.
Last year many of the Angels girls made up the first all-girls T-ball team in the league, distinguishing themselves with a sunflower affixed to their caps. This year, moving up to the “big boys league” of machine pitch, they have no such feminine touch and, according to Coach Jason Stafford, are not phased in the slightest to be the only pony-tailed players on the field.
The team of 8-year-old second-graders includes Jewell Perry, Veronika Stafford, Ava Wehlage, Ashley Bediakian, KT McVeigh, Tara Trabucco, Danni Dehaven, Stella Mikolajewski, Sydney Lee, Lucy Loretta and McKara Sweeney.
“We’re doing really well,” said Coach Stafford, noting they had ranked third out of seven teams until last week when they dropped a couple of games and settled into fourth place.
A highlight of the year was handing the number one team in their division, the Yankees, their first lost. Until the Yanks met the Angels, they were undefeated.
“The first win is always the sweetest because we lost the first couple of games but then we went on a five-game winning streak, starting with beating that number one undefeated team,” Stafford said.
Stafford said the girls are very engaged in the game, they get excited to learn they’re winning and they always ask how many outs there are in an inning, just in case it has changed since the last game. Skill-wise, they’ve all added tools to their Angelic arsenals.
“The girls are very competitive, it’s been awesome to watch them grow,” Stafford said.
Moving from hitting a ball off a tee to taking 38-mile per-hour pitches from a machine is a big change, but the girls have adapted well. Stafford prepped the girls for the step up by putting them through “spring training” batting practices.
“It’s great because they all have progressed so much in fielding, hitting and just their confidence,” Stafford said. “It’s pretty awesome to see the growth in their confidence and self esteem.”
Stafford said he has really enjoyed coaching the girls this year and will relish the last three regular season match-ups next week. The Angels will get one last crack at the first place Yankees on May 30.