The league contests, tournaments, championship games and camaraderie of high school baseball and softball set the tone for the United Way of San Joaquin’s 29th annual Baseball-Softball Classic, played on Friday night on the fields at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.
More than 100 athletes, all recent graduates and most preparing to play in college, participate in each annual event. Competition is secondary to meeting up with rivals — including some who local players know through travel teams — and putting on the uniform to play with teammates and coaches one more time.
“It was an honor that we got to play, that coach picked us to play, especially because this is our last time playing with Coach Augie (Gonzales),” said Millennium High’s Katie Chambers, referring to her Millennium High coach of the past four years.
She and her sister Megan teamed up to help the South team beat the North 9-6. In the fifth inning, Katie singled up the middle and then came home on Megan’s triple.
“There’s a lot of girls that are really talented here, so it was really nice to be part of the team and meet new people, and it was really fun,” Megan Chambers added.
Though the sisters will leave Tracy in the fall, they will stay together, both playing at Ottawa University in Arizona. Their teammate Brittney Rockwell was also selected for the all-star team but did not play Friday.
Tracy High had three players on the South team — Emily Yanke, Isabel Cargill and Karina Faasisila. Yanke, who played shortstop and second base and hit a fifth-inning double to bring in Megan Chambers, received the $500 United Way scholarship for being the South team’s MVP.
“Coming into this all-star game, I was excited to play in a Tracy High jersey one more time,” Yanke said. “Softball is such a big world and we all know each other, so it’s fun to play for fun, and have fun with it instead of being so serious, and you get to play with new teammates.”
Xiana Villalobos and Marissa Magana from Kimball High also played for the South, and Kaitlyn Petrovich was selected but did not play.
On the baseball side, most of the local players were on the South team, which beat the North 11-7.
Kimball High’s Gabe Cortinas took his turn at pitching in the middle innings on the field where he will continue playing baseball for the Delta College Mustangs.
“It’s pretty cool to be out here with some of the best players in our county. It was a fun game, and a close game all around,” he said. “I was happy to be out there with everybody, having fun. That’s what it’s all about.”
Tracy High’s Joey Corso and Mountain House High’s Andres DeLeon also took turns on the mound. Local players also included Damian Vallejos and Diego Morales from West High, Colton Duke and Marcus Martinez from Millennium High, Brentley Bergmann from Tracy High, and Noah Hering, Jacob Vales and Carter Leal from Mountain House. Trevor Maharaj, A.J. Pike and Jeremiah Fontenot from Delta Charter High played for the North team.
Mountain House High head coach Stephen Gatehouse and his staff had a day to put together a lineup for the South team, and he enjoyed his first time as an all-star coach.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I knew what to expect. I knew quite a few of the kids just because of us playing against them, but there were a lot of kids that I’d never seen that were all really good kids,” he said. “The competition was good. They had some good players on that (North) team. I just thought our pitching was a little bit deeper and that carried us.”