Youth Softball: South Valley girls finish third in World Series

ALL SMILES San Jose Strikkers players, from left, Kaylee Smallen, Karissa Smith, Mila Gutierrez and Sydnee Bielecki pose for a photo after taking third in the NSA World Series. 

SAN JOSE—Four local girls, playing for the San Jose Strikkers, claimed third place in the 10U division on July 19 at the National Softball Association’s World Series tournament in Everette, Wash.
Mila Gutierrez 11, from Morgan Hill, Sydnee Bielecki 10, Kaylee Smallen 11, and Karissa Smith 10, from Gilroy, went 4-2 in the tournament to clinch a third place victory.
The tournament began on July 15 with an opening ceremony and featured 50 teams from across the western United States and Canada. To ease the nerves of the upcoming tournament, the girls participated in a pin exchange with their opponents. This display of collective sportsmanship engaged the players in a friendly exchange with other teams before getting competitive.
The Strikkers showcased a strong performance throughout the tournament, but the thrill of the week came in the final game of the second day when they overcame the opposing team in the last inning.
Trailing 5-4 and down to their last out, Smith and Gutierrez reached the bases and paved the way for Bielecki, who hit a single to centerfield which scored two runs and sealed the victory.
“Our team’s bats came together at the right moment,” assistant coach Paul Gutierrez said after the game. “They did great. It’s what we’ve been working toward all season.”
The Strikkers returned to the South Bay proud of their performance and third place finish. They plan on returning to the NSA World Series tournament next year, but hope to have different results. The Strikkers said they will stay focus and train hard, never losing sight of that first place trophy.