Gilroy Majors Softball All Star team manager/head coach Augusto Correia had a problem in the District 59 championship game against the San Jose Spartans on June 28.
“It was hard to get everyone in,” Correia said, referring to the team’s 23-2, 3-inning mercy rule victory. “But I was able to get all 12 players in.”
Little League softball rules state that every player is entitled to one at-bat and six outs in the field, and Correia was able to get his reserves plenty of playing time. Gilroy advances to the Delta Sectionals in Martinez on July 7. If the squad wins that tournament, it would advance to NorCals, which is one step away from the World Series.
“We’ll focus on the Delta Sectionals first and take it from there,” said Correia, who credited assistant coaches Kathy Bennett and Paulo Sousa for being instrumental in the players’ development and on-field play. “We’re expecting lot more tougher competition. I’m very proud of our girls—they’ve worked hard and come a long way. Some of these girls just one or two years ago were learning the game and now playing at a high level.”
The roster includes Caitlyn Correia, Catarina Correia, Kyli Foreman, Gianna Herrera, Bella James, Rebecca James, Alyssa Lopez, Penelope Perez, Ava Quiroz, Katelin Rausch, Isabela Sousa, Aubrey Starks, and assistant coaches Kathy Bennett and Paulo Sousa.
Correia and his wife, Melissa—who takes care of the team’s administration duties—have two daughters on the team in Caitlyn and Catarina and also a niece in Sousa. The entire team is a family, making the experience all the more enjoyable.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to experience this with all of these girls,” Melissa Correia said. “Our two daughters and many of these girls learned to play the game through Gilroy Little League, and they’ve grown from the experience.”
The Correias credit the team’s unofficial pitching coach—out of respect they only refer to him as coach Alfredo—for helping develop the team’s three pitchers: Cat Correia, Perez and Sousa.
“He’s put in endless hours as a volunteer just working with them,” Melissa said. “They have gotten so much help and would not be where they are without him. A lot of girls in Gilroy are coached by him. Coach Alfredo has been just phenomenal. Our pitchers are all different and effective. Coach Alfredo’s goal is to see everyone he coaches play high school ball if that is their desire. He prepares them nicely and puts them in a position to succeed for the future.”
Even though literally everyone on the team contributed to the championship win, the offensive onslaught was led by Quiroz, Foreman and Starks. Quiroz and Foreman, in particular, hit home runs in both tournament games. Caitlyn Correia and Cat Correia are the catchers, and Caitlyn—despite being one of the smallest girls on the team—knows how to take control.
“She is a glue-type player who keeps everyone together,” Augusto said. “This was a great tournament because everyone is happy when they get to play a lot.”
Augusto has no idea on how the team will fare in the Sectional Tournament, but he wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being the premier squad of the tourney.
“The girls are looking forward to what’s next,” he said. “They want to be challenged and play the best.”
Three of the players—Caitlyn Correia, Lopez and Perez—played on last year’s Minor League All Star team that won NorCals, the farthest stage for the Minors level. So there’s plenty of championship pedigree on this talent-laden squad. Gilroy, of course, always has a strong pool of softball players. Melissa is amazed on just how far the girls have come.
“Some of the girls on this team started at an instructional level at 7 or 8 years old,” she said. “And here they are now representing Gilroy and you can’t help but be proud. We’ve all become families because these girls have been playing off and on together for at least the last four years. We always joke if you’re in Gilroy and have a daughter, they’re playing softball. It’s our thing, and we’ve definitely built a lot of friendships within this town with this great game.”