Redmond’s Juniors all-star softball team displayed its talent on the field and made an impact through community service during its recent trip to the Little League Softball West Region Championship in Tucson, Arizona.
The state champions, ages 13-14, flew to Tucson and finished third in the regional tournament, which took place July 18-24. Arizona’s Four Peaks Softball Little League team took the title and earned a trip to the Junior League Softball World Series on July 28-Aug. 3 at Everest Park in Kirkland. Redmond concluded its summer season with a 3-2 record at regionals.
On their day off on July 21, the 12 Redmond West Little League girls painted three picnic tables and benches at Rio Vista Elementary School. According to manager Cheryl Johnson, the three painted designs included sunshine and an abstract splatter, and all the players left their handprints on their artwork.
“We always try to look for something, some sort of volunteering,” said Johnson, adding that Andy Morales, who spoke at the tournament banquet and works at the school, pointed them in the painting direction.
Pitcher Karli Kostoff said it was important for the team to give back to the community. Johnson said they had fun painting and interacting with each other during the tournament.
Last year, Redmond won the District 9 tournament and immediately qualified for the World Series.
The time out, the locals took a lengthy route to attempt a repeat appearance at the series. Redmond first defeated host Tucson (Thornydale Little League), 23-2; lost to Utah (Cedar City National Little League), 7-6; beat Northern California (Martinez Little League), 7-6; defeated Southern California (South El Monte National Little League), 5-4; and lost to Utah, 4-3, to end their run on July 23.
Johnson said that Redmond stayed hydrated and forged through the blistering weather — which reached about 100 degrees — to keep the opposition on its toes. Redmond provided solid defense and its outfielders registered two-thirds of its outs.
Kostoff moved from shortstop to the pitcher’s mound during the state tournament after starting hurler Natalia Farago sustained an injury and took over the second-base spot.
It had been five years since Kostoff last fired a ball from the circle, but she dusted off the cobwebs and helped lead her team to victory at state and continued her pitching prowess at regionals.
“It was nice to see the team say, ‘We’re gonna get behind Karli,’” Johnson said of their stellar defense.
Added Kostoff: “It was hard and nerve-racking ‘cause I hadn’t done it in so long. I knew that I could rely on them and they were gonna back me up when the ball was put into play.”
Catcher Kimora Johnson said it was weird to be on the receiving end of Kostoff’s pitches again. The backstop added that the hurler had her pitches on point throughout state and regionals.
On the hitting front at regionals, everyone etched some good numbers on the stat sheet and the team collectively batted over .300. Ella Claus hammered two home runs and Annika Dayberry knocked a dinger of her own.
On and off the field, Kimora said it’s been a memorable two years bonding with her teammates by making friendship bracelets, sharing inside jokes, listening to music and more. At regionals, their activities including playing putt-putt golf and visiting the University of Arizona.
When the games were in session, Kimora said, “We always make sure we have fun, that’s the most important part.”