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California Magic 18U Earns State Softball Championship Honors
A team of softball girls from Modesto, Oakdale, Escalon, Manteca, Atwater and Merced have come together to form a state championship squad.

The girls play for California Magic 18U out of Oakdale and recently earned the USSSA Fall State Championship. Competition was on Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 23-25, in Hayward/Fremont. California Magic, after falling into the losers bracket by losing their first game and after losing their second game, had to win the next five to win the championship.

After wining their first game (game 3) by a score of 6-0 the next four games were nailbiters. The fourth game of the tournament was tied up 2-2 after 7 innings and went to international tiebreaker by placing the last out on second base. The bottom of the 10th inning Magic had the bases loaded with Jennifer Costa up at bat. The last time Jennifer was up at bat they decided to intentionally walk her. Not able to walk her this time with bases loaded and with two strikes against her, on the next pitch she hit a grand slam home run over center field (only one run counted for the win).

Bre McGrew, a senior from Manteca's Sierra High, pitched all 10 innings. She seemed to get stronger and stronger as the game went on. The next game on Sunday, with a win, got the Magic into the Championship contest. They won 3-2, going 7 innings. It was California Magic and Lady Athletic (the team that beat them 11-0 in their first game on Friday) in the Championship game. The Magic had to beat them two times to win the Championship. First game Magic won 5-4 in the first inning of the international tiebreaker. McGrew started by pitching the first four innings and Costa closed by pitching the last four innings. The final game for the Championship saw Costa pitching, in the first inning the Lady Athletics jumped out with one run but that's all they got through six innings.

With the Magic as the home team, they entered the bottom of the seventh behind 1-0 and it was do or die. The first 3 batters were Kaitlin Skarke, Christina Azevedo and Costa, with Skarke and Azevedo both getting on base with a single. Costa, with a second chance after popping one up over past first base in foul territory, was able to hit one deep to center field to drive in the winning runs.

Throughout the fall season California Magic 18Uplaced second in three tournaments and came close in other tournaments. When it counted the most California Magic finished the fall season as USSA 18U Fall State Champions.

California Magic had great defensive plays also throughout the run to the championship. Outfielders Jenna Soldate, Juli Jasso, Marisa Olmo, Kristin Apicella and Alicia Aguilar didn't let any balls get by them and got the balls into the infield quickly. First baseman Karissa Valdez was ready for the throw and she often had to play catch, scoop, stretch or jump but managed to always make the catch. Not much got through the left side of the infield with Lounette Jackson or Kaitlin Starke playing third and Christina Azevedo or Jennifer Costa playing shortstop. Sharing the load at second were Kristin Apicella and Lounette Jackson and steady behind the plate, ready to throw out anyone attempting to steal, were Christina Azevedo and Kaitlin Starke. Sarah Mooneyham was ready to pitch or run whenever needed, filling a valuable, versatile role for the team.

Though they started very slowly in the final tournament and played with a lot of errors, coaches said from the third game on the girls knew they had to play error free and hit the ball. The whole team came together and played their hearts out to grab the championship.