Goleta Thunder 12U Team Wins 8 Straight Games to
Capture USA Softball Western National Championship
The Goleta Thunder 12-Under girls softball all-star team made history
last week in Roseville, going undefeated in eight games to capture the
championship at the USA Softball Western Nationals.
It’s the first national title for the Goleta Valley Girls Softball
Association in the 12U age group. The Thunder beat Beach Softball
Club of Manhattan Beach, 6-4, in the championship game.
The Thunder went 3-0 in pool play and 5-0 in double-elimination
bracket play against the best teams in the western region.
“We knew it was going to be a tough tournament in tough conditions,”
head coach Beau Brunner said. “We were set on staying in the
winner’s bracket to give us the best shot at the championship and we
went out and executed.”
Thunder opened pool play with a 12-4 win over the Rocklin
Thundercats. Anastasia Brunner got the team going with a lead-off
inside-the-park home run.
On day two, the Thunder swept a doubleheader against Beach (8-6)
and Clairemont Gold (13-6). Against Beach, Zella Cassidy led the way
for Goleta, going 3 for 3 with three RBI.
Kacey Hurley went 3-3 with four RBI and Brunner added three RBI in
the win over Clairemont, which clinched the No. 1 seed in bracket
In the first round, Goleta won in dominant fashion with a 15-0 mercy
victory over the Sundodgers of Tacoma, Wa.
The second-round game proved to be the toughest in the Thunder’s
championship run as they faced off against the San Clemente Threats.
With the game tied at 4-4 in the fifth inning, Solana Sandoval blasted a
solo home run over the left-field fence to give Goleta the lead. The
Thunder added another run in the fifth and held on for a 6-5 victory to
advance to the quarterfinals.
Goleta met the Beach again and survived a 12-11 slugfest. Jessica
Vega and Sam Lorden each had three hits and multiple RBI. Cassidy
added three hits, including a line-drive home run to center field. Chaya
Blaney contributed a game-saving, diving catch in the final inning to
secure the win.
“We hit the ball hard all tournament,” coach Brunner said. “We earned
the reputation of being the ‘most feared offensive team’ in the
tournament. The offense definitely led the way throughout the week.”
In the semifinals, the Thunder matched up with the San Mateo
Slammers, another undefeated squad. Trailing 7-4 in the seventh
inning, Goleta chipped away and tied the score with two outs and the
winning run on third. Ciara Torres came up with a walk-off single to
right field for a dramatic victory and a trip to the championship game.
Lucy Holian and Anastasia Brunner had three hits while Sandoval
recorded three RBI.
The championship featured yet another matchup with Beach. Goleta
tallied 11 hits, Holian held the opposing offense in check in the circle,
and the defense, including Isa Malarky and Sam Lorden, shined to
secure a 6-4 win and a national championship.
Thunder pitcher Holian pitched every single inning of the tournament
and finished with a record of 8-0.
“We knew it was going to be hot all week long and we only had one
pitcher,” Brunner said. “She showed a side of her we’ve never seen
and pitched her heart out in every situation she was put in.”
The group of players has been together since they were 7-8 years old.
“We’ve been training as a team for three years now,” Brunner said.
“The girls are getting bigger, stronger and are throwing the ball harder.
They’ve been growing together and hit their stride at the right time last
The members of the team are Anastasia Brunner, Kacey Hurley,
Solana Sandoval, Zella Cassidy, Jessica Vega, Lucy Holian, Isa
Malarky, Sam Lorden, Jess Lordan, Ciara Torres and Chaya Blaney.
Beau Brunner is the manager, assisted by Tony Sandoval, Vince
Holian, Troy Hurley and Matt Lorden.