After an offseason of turmoil, the Belton Youth Softball Association decided to align themselves with the Central Texas Youth Softball Association to consolidate solid competition from around the area.
What resulted was one of the most successful postseasons in the history of the organization.
“My number one priority was every single one of the girls and making sure that they enjoyed this season,” BYSA president Marina Trevino. “Elizabeth Park (CTYSA president) became a wonderful friend of mine. Combining with them was a no-brainer.”
While just two teams won their district tournaments (6U Knockouts, 8U Coach Pitch Hot Stix), two Belton teams and the Temple Flawless gained automatic bids with Temple CTYSA hosting the 10U tournament and the Belton Aggies were runners up in the 15U district. Five teams qualified for Texas Teenage Softball Association state tournaments.
“Temple and Belton has always had that friendly rivalry. So we knew that this would be friendly competition, as well as letting our girls here play against their friends in Temple,” Trevino said. “Elizabeth and I were determined to rebuild that bridge between Belton and Temple. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about these girls and the memories they make playing ball and being with their friends. We also combined with Academy and Jarrell. That exposed BYSA and CTYSA to outside competition as well. As far as the competition level, there were some really good games between BYSA and CTYSA. I always enjoyed being at the fields just to watch the competition. Just watching these girls reminded me why I love this sport so much.”
Let’s recap the performances of the BYSA teams that represented the city on the state stage:
6U Belton Knockouts: 5-0, defeated the Alba Golden Crush for the TTAS 6U State Championship in Emory. They navigated through a 21-team state tournament to bring Belton back a championship at the youngest level.
8U Belton Hot Stix: 4-2, finished third in state in 23-team tourney at Groesbeck. Jamie Perkins’ squad followed up their third-place finish at the 8U Coach Pitch State Tournament in Temple last year with another third-fplace finish in the 2018. The first loss was to an outstanding Cameron Thunder squad. The second loss was to the Salado Shock, whom the Hot Stix beat twice at the district tournament in Florence three weeks ago. The Shock went on to defeat the Thunder for the state championship.
10U Belton Bomb Squad: 5-0, defeated the Cameron Barbie Bashers 9-5 to claim the TTAS 10U State Championship in Temple. Nicanor Ruiz’s Bomb Squad went undefeated this season, defeated fellow BYSA teams Temple Flawless and Belton OutKasts, and had to defeat the talented Barbie Bashers last Thursday in the winner’s bracket semis and withstood an onslaught from Cameron in the middle innings to defeat them in the championship game. At one point in the state tournament, the Squadron scored 55 consecutive runs before Cameron scored five straight in the championship game. They have outscored their opponents in the tournament 60-5. Maddison Ruiz, who is moving up to 12U next season, registered nearly 70 strikeouts in five games in the circle. Alexis Ortiz, Ruiz’s battery mate, had multiple RBI hits and was named the team’s most valuable player of the tournament.
10U Belton OutKasts: 3-2, fourth place in state at the 24-team tourney at Temple. Josh Frausto’s OutKasts had a surprising run through the winner’s bracket before their district ally Belton Bomb Squad dropped them into the loser’s bracket last Wednesday night. They rallied to beat Valley Mills 8-6 in the loser’s bracket Thursday afternoon before running out of gas against eventual third-place finisher Troup Shockwave. The efforts of team were spectacular, especially having to play through a tough loser’s bracket in the heat of the day.
15U Belton Aggies: 4-2, fourth place in state at 16-team tourney at Rusk. The Aggies played through a second round lost to host Rusk to win three straight games in the loser’s bracket before losing to Rusk again, who ended up finishing third overall. Janet TePoel was solid in the circle once again, and the Aggies’ offense hit exceptionally well in the tournament.
The only age group that was not represented in a state tournament was 12U. They were represented at the district tournament by the 12U Bomb Squad and ran into some fierce competition in Harker Heights. They played well, but were unable to make it out.
The outcome was a 22-6 output from the five state representatives. None of the six losses were to teams that finished below third place in the state.
The BYSA board, led by Trevino, spearheaded an effort to keep the league relevant and improve the product, both on and off the field. Trevino helped out on Perkins’ Hot Stix team in the post season.
“This year was a challenge for sure,” Trevino said. “Coming off of a bad prior season and its legal issues, our board knew that we not only had to make sure all of these girls were taken care of, but we also knew that parents and the general public would be keeping a close eye on us. I cannot that my board and the parents enough for having faith in us.”
“Being part of the board, the initial plan was to make BYSA softball great again,” Bomb Squad head coach Nicanor Ruiz said. “I think this is a great start. Marina, as president at the helm, she’s doing great things and has the whole board behind her. Belton Youth Softball did not fall apart. We just came together and after a roller coaster, the end result was great. I am proud to be a Beltonian and represent my city to the fullest.”
Trevino’s goal was to combine the competition of the game on the field with the friendships off of it. The chemistry of the two really showed this year.
“My goal when I took over this organization was to make sure each and every girl out there would have fun with their friends, learn the game of softball and create memories that they could talk about for the rest of their lives,” Trevino said. “At the end of the day, the girls will not remember the games that they won or lost. However, the friendships that they make and the fun that they had would always last. After the prior season, we knew as a board that we had to work hard to get this league back on track. From fundraisers to sponsorships, we were able to make that happen.”
The state tournament trips can be extremely expensive teams. The league stepped up the efforts to ensure covering expenses could make the experience less stressful on families and let the girls concentrate on the games themselves.
“This year, we were able to send all of our teams to state with over $8,600.00,” Trevino said. “This helped them with hotels, gas, or whatever they may have needed. With the funds we were able to raise, we were able to show our appreciation to everyone at Belton Youth Softball by renting out Summer Fun and allowing all the teams, players, and their families in. Just seeing everyone out there having fun with their family and friends was wonderful.”
Trevino was very appreciative of the board and the volunteers that made this year special.
“I am extremely grateful for my board members and the public’s support in helping turn this organization around,” Trevino said. “I also want to thank Mike and Susan Ward for keeping our concession stand in tiptop share, as I heard nothing but positive feedback from the public and the kids. Seeing the little T-ball girls running up to the concession stand to get their free game drink was always one of the highlights of night. Again, I could not have done this without my board and support of all of the parents. They deserve a lot of credit, as they helped, supported us, and allowed us in their lives to try to make a difference for their children. I know that BYSA’s future looks great, as there is still more ball to be played. I would also like to give a shout out to our five teams that competed and placed in the TTA states tournaments and represented Belton Youth Softball. We are proud of all the girls and are very excited to have the 6U and 10U state titles back in Belton!”