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Locals play in prestigious USA Softball All-American Games in Oklahoma City

Locals play in prestigious USA Softball All-American Games in Oklahoma City

From the What you need to know for Wednesday, September 16 series

Area softball players Gabi Arias, Emma Cruddas and Adelana Rodriguez competed at the prestigious USA Softball All-American Games in Oklahoma City last month.

Veteran Lompoc Girls Softball Association coach Codie Blea, who helped coach the Region 10 Red team the trio played on at the Games, said all three acquitted themselves just fine.

“Gabi hit .500, but sometimes batting average doesn’t tell the whole story,” said Blea. “It’s a matter of when the hits came, in what type of situation.

“All three of them did their jobs.”

He said Arias and Cruddas, both of whom are 13, and Rodriguez, 12, “all have a bright softball future in high school, and maybe even in college.

“They are all good players, very coachable, are great kids and have great parents.”

Arias, who lives in Lompoc, played shortstop and left field at the Games. Cruddas, who lives in Orcutt, played third base and left field. Rodriguez, who lives in Nipomo, played right field.

The Games took place at the same facility in Oklahoma City that customarily hosts the NCAA national softball championships. That event was scrubbed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Region 10 Red squad went 3-2 and made it to the final eight at the Games before going out of the double elimination tournament.

“I was pretty happy with the way things went at the tournament,” said Arias. “We went 3-2 (overall), and we won our pool at 2-0.”

Cruddas said, “l thought things went pretty well. We beat a team from Georgia in a pool play game that had beaten us in a scrimmage game that Friday. I was pretty happy about that.”

Arias, Rodriguez and Cruddas were selected to play for the Region 10 squad at the Games based on their softball accomplishments. Blea said he went through an application process.

“I submitted an application, a recommendation from a peer coach and a recommendation from a former player that were reviewed by Region 10 representatives from USA Softball.”

Blea made it through the application process and, “I co-coached the Region 10 team with Iris Stremic of Hawaii and Dena Johnson of Nevada.”

In Oklahoma City, Cruddas said, they were actually able to be mask-free.

As far as spectators, “Our families could be at the games, and other teams watched us.” That was it as far as spectator presence at her team’s games, said Arias.

Blea said it was a good All-American Games for Region 10. “We made it to the final eight, and the Region 10 Blue Team made it to the Final Four.”

Blea said the state health department has loosened some pandemic-related restrictions, and Arias, Cruddas and Rodriguez all said their respective club teams can finally practice together.

“No games, though,” said Cruddas.

As for the workouts, “We have to socially distance,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez indicated the entire experience, from the plane ride to the Games to her time there, was a blast for her.

Her first plane trip ever “was a dream come true,” said Rodriguez.

As for playing on the diamond that the NCAA softball championships are held, “It was a wonderful experience that I think I’ll remember for a very long time.”

Player of the Decade: Get to know the greatest girls basketball players from the last decade

You didn't think we would stop with football, did you?  We continue highlighting the greatest athletes in the history of the Central Coast with our Player of the Decade series, but this time we focus on girls basketball! 

We have profiled 12 athletes for you to learn more about and the voting will start next week! Share the profiles, and the polls on your social media pages and let's continue the great participation and find out who your choice is for Player of the Decade. 

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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