Carlsbad’s 8U All-Stars were long shots at best for the state softball tournament. Many of the girls were new to the game and lacked basic fundamentals. Their starting catcher left on vacation days before the 13-team state-qualifier in Ramona. And they would have to get by perennial rival and powerhouse Vista to earn a trip to Lancaster.
Things looked even bleaker Saturday after a heart-breaking loss to Vista meant the 8-year-olds from Carlsbad would have to win three games on Sunday to earn a berth. But after two early morning victories over Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch by combined scores of 9-1, only Vista stood in the way of a state berth.
Trailing Vista, 4-1, in the last inning, Carlsbad sent the game into extra innings on a double by London Jarrard that drove home Ellie Essman and Kaitlyn McKibben and a ground out by Samantha Ruiz that scored Madi Gaines.
Moments later, Carlsbad won it in extra innings when Essman launched a blast over the right fielder’s head to score Laurel Moody with the winning run. Essman had joined the team two days earlier as a replacement for catcher Ashley Bowers, who is cutting her vacation short to join the team in Lancaster. Ruiz was the pitching star for Carlsbad during the three-day tournament, tossing three shutouts, two against Mira Mesa, and winning five games.
Never imagining for a minute they’d need lodging in Lancaster in early July, the 8U Gold All-Stars’ parents are scrambling for hotel rooms and short on money with three days of travel expenses looming.
“I never even considered it, honestly,” said Carlsbad Coach Jeff Jarrard, London’s father. “Never did I think we’d make it this far. At our first practice, we had girls diving out of the batter’s box during live hitting. This is a shocker.”
Jarrad’s father, Tom, is the team’s first base coach, philosopher and cheerleader. Tom Jarrard, known as “Pops” to the girls, led daughter Yvette’s Carlsbad team to the Bobby Sox national tournament in Buena Park three decades ago. Now, he’s enjoying the ride as granddaughter London’s team makes an improbable run to the state tournament.
"These are a great group of girls that worked so hard and overachieved all season," he said.
Carlsbad’s 12U team also grabbed one of four qualifying spots, making it the first time in Carlsbad Softball Assn. history that two teams have reached state in the same year.
The 8U All-Stars will be having a fundraiser Monday at to help cover travel expenses. Please download a flyer from the CSA website (carlsbadsoftball.org) and present it when purchasing food or drinks at Pizza Port. Pizza Port is contributing 20% of the proceeds from orders that accompany a flyer.
The All-Stars, now ranked ninth in the Southern California MVP power rankings, open round-round play Friday, July 6 against Corona. They play Temecula and Rancho Palos Verdes Peninsula on Saturday and close with Cypress of Orange County on Sunday.