Oakdale’s American Fastpitch Club (AFC) is currently ranked number two in the state and cracked the top 125 national list for U-18 Softball squad. Oakdale accomplished this in only its fourth year as a team. It began as a recreational team that wanted to continue at a higher competitive level and in 2014 the program was launched. The team is coached by Don Gonzalez, Bill Silva and Harold Dawson. “This team was young and wanted to advance. They each had passion and focus, and when you have a dozen girls who all share that level of intensity and determination, it was an easy transition for us,” said Coach Gonzalez.
Although the team has players ages 14 through 16, they play against mostly 18-year-olds in the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) and Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) leagues. The team has seven players from Oakdale and also has players from surrounding areas including Escalon, Riverbank, La Grange, Hughson and Modesto.
“We formed this team for a number of reasons, however I think the main reason is so that these girls can excel at the high school level and ultimately the college level,” said Coach Gonzalez. “As far as college level goes, it’s not just playing a university, but more so having them attend college. Education is the big picture and if softball helps them get interested into thinking about college and preparing themselves for it, that’s the real goal, the ultimate goal.”
It has been a busy summer for the girls as they competed in three tournaments over the last 90 days. The team competed in the Surf City Showcase in Huntington Beach and went 2-2-1. They found success in the USSSA State Championship with a 7-0 record and followed it up with a notable performance in the Queen of the Diamond tournament in late July where they advanced to the semi-finals.
“The girls have worked very hard this summer. They compete against 18-year-olds and still managed to hold their own. I am very happy with their progress,” Gonzalez praised.
AFC is active in the community as members of the team and coaching staff have helped out The Fillies, a young Oakdale-based softball team with 12 and under players.
“The Fillies are very fortunate to be mentored by PGF U-18 (AFC) American Fastpitch Club coach Don Gonzalez. Having Don and his coaching staff come out and have their players mentor our girls is such a huge benefit,” said Fillies head coach David Jablonski.
The Oakdale players on the Fastpitch team have OHS experience or will have the high school experience this spring. Players include Dylan Gonzalez, Katelynn Silva, Cortney Koelmans, Ashley Martin, Nikki Ibarra, Bailey Sexton and Jayden Grivette. AFC will continue with a busy schedule this fall as their first tournament is scheduled for Sept. 9.