The Orange County Softball Coaches All-Star Classic offers one more opportunity for top high school seniors to don their uniform in front of their family and friends.
As far as locals were concerned, the event was a smashing success. Each came away with a great memory to cap their high school careers.
The Green All-Stars defeated the Orange All-Stars 9-5 on Tuesday night at Deanna Manning Stadium at Irvine’s Bill Barber Park.
Sunny Hills’ Mariah Ramirez (Tennessee Chattanooga) was named the MVP. She had two hits, including a bases-clearing double to left field in the sixth inning that stood up as the winning hit.
Mater Dei’s Mackensie Kohl (Ohio University) earned the win by throwing two scoreless innings to start the game. La Habra’s Elena Valenzuela (Long Island) got the save, getting Segerstrom’s Jayden DeMoss to ground out with the bases loaded to end the game.
The structure of the lineups provided an interesting angle, as whole leagues came up at a time. Orange Coast League representatives Haley Sheffner (Costa Mesa) and Emily Kubisty (Estancia) set the table for the Green in the fifth.
Sheffner drew a lead-off walk, and Kubisty followed with a single to right. Mater Dei’s Kelli Godin dropped a single into left to score Sheffner.
In the eighth, Sheffner had single up the middle with a runner in scoring position. A diving stop by second baseman Danielle Lew (Los Alamitos) on the edge of the outfield grass kept Fullerton’s Kristin Smith (UC Riverside) from scoring the run from second.
“I like how everyone got a chance to play,” Sheffner said. “I thought that was really cool. It was really good meeting players that you know are better than you.
“You can always work to get to that point, and I thought that was really cool.”
After her strikeout on a high fastball in the eighth inning, Kubisty came away with an appreciation for the opportunity to face upper-tier pitching.
“I know I got to work a lot harder,” Kubisty said, adding that the riseball was a little-seen wrinkle in Orange Coast League games.
Kubisty plans to walk on to the softball team at San Jose State, while Sheffner hopes to continue playing at Orange Coast College.
Huntington Beach teammates Allee Bunker and Kelli Kufta have been close for years. They could not get much closer on the softball diamond, as the Oilers’ duo made up the left side of the Orange roster’s starting infield.
Bunker lofted a cue shot behind second base in the sixth, cutting into the Green lead at 8-3. It spun away from the Green middle infielders, scoring Garden Grove’s Olivia Candelas (Hope International) and Capistrano Valley’s Jasmine Sievers (Oregon).
Deanna Manning Stadium has served as the site of the Premier Girls Fastpitch national championship games. Bunker said it was exciting to return to the field where her dreams came true in winning the 16U Platinum Division title as a member of Firecrackers Brashear two years ago.
“I played my PGF Nationals here two years ago for Platinum in 16s,” Bunker said. “That was the last time that I played in this dugout, so it was cool to come back here.”
The homely feeling went beyond her travel softball memories. Bunker added that although Kufta and herself will be playing in an Orange County versus Riverside County showcase on Wednesday, Tuesday’s game would feel different because she was playing with so many local girls.
“Since it was local and against girls around here, it was nice to play people who I knew,” the Oregon-bound Bunker said.
Kufta, who is headed to the University of San Diego, had a double in the second inning.
Ocean View’s Kim MacPherson made a number of plays in the outfield. She also extended the game in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate with a walk to load the bases.