By Mike Kinney
The COVID-19 pandemic may have derailed their championship season last year, but it could not stand in the way of destiny for long.
This week, Richmond Little League’s senior division softball team defeated Oakley Elite in two games, 8-2 and 21-4, to win the Northern California Senior Softball Championship in Martinez — a momentous feat that was a long time coming.
“The last four years we were awfully close to winning it all, but it just wasn’t our time,” said Mark Torres, president of Richmond Little League and team manager. “Last year, I felt even stronger about our team coming together and finally winning it all. But one week into the season, we had to shut down due to COVID.”
And when it finally came time to play ball in 2021, “we had to put our Richmond Little League together as fast as possible,” with some of the team’s most talented girls having aged out. Thankfully, solid players came up from the younger division, and existing veterans also stepped up.
Torres credited hard work and team veterans who led by example with hard workouts and good sportsmanship for the successful title run. Myriona Crenshaw, Maricela, Angela and Gisselle Taylor, Jisselle Rodriguez, Endiya Corbett, Ana Torres and new addition Sarah Romero “kept our squad working hard,” Torres said.
“We had our ups and downs through the season but by the end of the season we were in full swing and winning,” Torres said.
Torres himself has had ups and downs. He’s been going through stomach surgeries all year and was unable to attend the title games after being hospitalized with septic poisoning last week.
“Nevertheless, my girls were trained and ready and only needed to have an opponent put in front of them and my assistant coaches guide them,” Torres said. “One of our parent’s face-timed me both games. So there I sat in John Muir Hospital, my coach’s shirt and hat on cheering on my team.”
The championship victory is a credit to the girls’ efforts, their coaches and “a reward to all our parents’ hard work, getting them to and from practices and games,” Torres said. It also serves as inspiration for younger softball players coming up to represent the community.
“Our 2021 Senior squad has shown our entire league that we can do all we strive to do,” Torres said. “I am so very proud of each and every girl on this squad for believing what I have told them all since day 1, and that’s that they are the best. Cannot wait until next year.”
Signups start Oct. 1st online at www.richmonLL.org or at RPAL, 2200 Macdonald Ave.