LA VERNE >> Little League softball might not be well known in Southern California, but La Verne Little League softball’s all-stars are trying to change its profile.
La Verne was crowned West Region champions July 29 in San Bernardino and will play the first game of the World Series at 1 pm Tuesday in Greenville, North Carolina against the North Carolina state champions. The first 10 games over 2 days will be broadcast on ESPN+. The remaining games will all be broadcast on ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN.
The championship is at 4 pm on Aug. 15 on ESPN.
La Verne Little League, which was founded in 1954, has never had a baseball or softball team make the World Series until now and is trying to become the first California team to win the softball World Series since Glendale in 1990.
Getting to the World Series is sweet for a team that came so close last year, as La Verne, with many of the same players, was Southern California champion but lost to Arizona in the West Region semifinals.
“We’ve been trying to get this for three years,” second baseman Laila Washington said. “It means a lot.”
Six players out of the 13 on the team were on the same team last year.
Manager Kristen Torres doesn’t take lightly how far they’ve come.
“We expected to win (the West Region). But we expected to win last year too, and we came up short,” Torres said.
The season to this point has been pure dominance. The other SoCal District 20 teams didn’t want to play La Verne, so La Verne was crowned champion without playing a game in the district tournament.
Since then, La Verne has gone 3-0 in each of its three tournaments: SoCal Section 3, SoCal State Tournament and West Region, and has outscored its opponents 95-2 in the nine games. The only game in which La Verne didn’t win by mercy rule was the West Region title game against Arizona, a 10-1 score.
Despite all of that, Torres feels sure her team will be challenged.
“I expect some team is going to stun us and we will have to respond,” she said. “I think our biggest competition could be (Southeast Region champion) Virginia.”
If La Verne wins its first game, it will play Virginia, the runner-up last year, on Aug. 10.
Torres played softball at Glendora High School and Cal State Fullerton. She started coaching when her daughter Ryan, who plays shortstop and pitches on this team, was playing at the 6u level.
“I had to relearn the game as a coach,” Kristen Torres said
The girls have known each other for a while and coaches say the West Region, when the team stayed in San Bernardino was about as drama-free as a team of 11-13 year-old girls could be.
“It’s incredible what these girls do as a pack,” Kristen Torres said. “They’re all great athletes and do multiple sports, but when they get together, it’s about softball.”
“Even the girls who weren’t here last year, the chemistry is really good,” Ryan Torres said.
Peyton Mann, the youngest player on the team, is one of those multi-sport athletes. While she is not one of the six players who also plays travel softball, she does play club soccer.
“I like soccer more,” she admits. “But this is cool. We know they (teammates) have our backs.”
Pitcher Katie Coldiron is the team’s leadoff hitter and Kristen Torres says she throws a fastball at 62 mph. She’s usually followed in the formidable lineup by Washington, Ryan Torres, catcher Laney Sweeney and outfielder Erin Garcia.
As La Verne gets ready to open World Series play, the Little League baseball West Regional in San Bernardino was holding its opening ceremony on Friday and begins play Saturday. The Glendora American All-Stars are representing Southern California and face Hawaii at 7:30 pm Saturday in their opening round. The game will be on ESPN+.