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SnoCo Express 01 competes at nationals
MARYSVILLE — Competing at a national tournament in any sport is an honor that very few young athletes experience. For a local group of 11-year-old softball players from SnoCo Express 01, not only have they already competed at a national tournament, but they already have plans for winning it next year.
“The amazing thing is that these girls are a first-year 12U team,” said Mike Millar, head coach. “They are competing against girls who are older and bigger and more experienced, and they are still able to win.”
The team took first place at the National Softball Association State Tournament on June 30, which many of the girls said was the most exciting thing they’ve done in a while.
“It was really exciting to win that state championship,” said Isabelle Hansen, 11, who plays third base, outfield and catcher. “We are all really young, but we were all hitting well and defending well. It was mostly exciting being such a young team and playing these big, big girls and being able to compete.”
SnoCo Express 01 was undefeated in the tournament.
“We went 4-0, beating the Moses Lake Rattlers 12-0, Snohomish SWAT 9-2, Northwest Xplosion 4-3 in extra innings and Bellevue Blast in the championship game with a score of 10-9,” said Millar.
The close score of the final game meant that tension was high for the girls, who wanted to prove that they were there to win.
“I think that, in the championship game, there was a lot of adrenaline,” said Kassidy Millar. “We were guests and there was more excitement than anything. It’s cool to be a first-year team and go out and win against a second year 12U team.”
Coach Millar was impressed with the skill of the young team.
“The girls really came together through an up-and-down injury-plagued season to peak at the perfect time to win their third consecutive NSA ‘A’ State Championship,” he said.
“The final two games showed their grit and determination as they rallied from three down in the bottom of the eighth inning to knock off the NW Xplosion in the semi-final game. They followed that by coming from two runs down in the bottom of the seventh to beat the Blast for the title.”
Camryn Scott, 11, echoed the sentiment of her coach and teammates when she said she is proud to be a first-year team overcoming second-year athletes.
“I thought it was really cool to play second-year 12U teams and come out on top,” she said. “The game right before the championship was the best because we were down by four in the last inning and nobody scored until the last inning. We scored five runs in the seventh with a walk-off hit.”
The girls competed in their first national tournament at the Amateur Softball Association Western Nationals in Medford, Ore., from July 29 to Aug. 4.
“We didn’t do as well as we hoped at nationals,” said Scott. “Now we have the experience and we are ready to come back next year and go even further.”
Her coach agreed.
“As an all 11-year-old team competing against the best 12-year-old teams in the region, they held their own and then some,” said Millar. “They will be back in 2014, and looking to continue having fun and getting better every day.”
Pitcher Alexis Laudenslager is the only new player on the team, and transferred specifically for the coaching staff and competition in the area.
“This team has won six state championships,” she said. “I’m the only new player so this was my first state championship and my first nationals experience. It’s nice to see how we are ranked against the other teams at nationals.”
“We, as coaches and parents, are unbelievably proud of these girls and this team," said Millar. “They put in countless hours together year-round in our indoor facility in Arlington, doing their best to perfect their skills as individuals and as a team. These girls give up a lot to accomplish their goals. They have tons of fun together, on and off the field, and they are truly a team.”
“This is truly a special group of young ladies,” he said. “They are awesome on the field, but even better off the field. The team participates in many community service projects, from holding their annual Holiday Food Drive to working as volunteers at Special Olympic events.”