Team manager Tony Fernandez said that Tracy Express formed the team with local girls from the recreational league. Each 8-and-under team contributed its top player, so he has a roster of 18 Tracy girls who compete with Northern California teams that host tryouts, hand-pick players, and groom them for tournament play.
The past two tournaments were qualifiers for state-championship level play for most age groups, but Fernandez said that under-8 has yet to grow to that level. He expects that to change soon.
“It’s getting bigger for the 8’s. They’re getting more competitive,” Fernandez said, adding that the team’s record show that Tracy Express can build a competitive team with its younger players. “These girls all gelled together and are doing quite well,” he said.
By the end of the Wess Jones tournament, the Express team had eight girls who pitched at some point in the team’s 20 games, including four who averaged two strikeouts in every inning they pitched.
Rachel Cid, Ariel Johnson and Lyndsey Wagner pitched the most innings for the Express, and in 52 innings they combined for 104 strikeouts. Payton West struck out 14-of-27 batters in six innings. Serena Riley, Serrina Lavarias, Samantha Serrato and Isabel Cargill also pitch for the Express.
The team’s big hitters are Ariel Johnston, Rachel Cid and Payton West. Other players include Grace Bartholomew, Jalen Ervin, Karina Faasisila, Alexandria Navaral, Adrianna Pardini, Megan Perry, Mila Rodriguez, Madison Sanders, Sydney Vernon and Emily Yanke. The team’s coaches are Autry Johnson, Rob Cid and Derek West.
The team started off in jamboree-style tournaments, where no teams were eliminated, and progressed into elimination tournaments. Along the way, they compiled a 16-3-1 record, including a 4-1 record at the Last Chance Tournament at Big League Dreams in Manteca at the end of June. At that event, the Tracy Express was eliminated in the semifinal against the Benicia Outlaws, who went on to win the championship.
The team went 4-2 at the Wess Jones Tournament. In the semifinal game July 5, the Express broke a 0-0 tie with the Campbell Crush when Lyndsey Widner got an RBI base hit to drive in the winning run.
Host team Quicksilver of South San Jose broke a 0-0 tie in the fourth inning with two runs, and held on to win the final 2-0.
The team competes next in the July Heat Wave tournament in Hayward on July 25 and 26. That will be the last of the summer tournaments, and Fernandez said he expects the team will form the nucleus of a fall travel team.