The future of fast-pitch softball in Cambria and on the Central Coast is as shiny as a silver medal gleaming in the morning sun.
Indeed, Riptide, a Central Coast squad that included five girls from Cambria, demonstrated remarkable skill and resilience this past weekend, July 12 to 15, by winning the Silver Medal for 14-and-under teams at the California Junior Olympics in San Diego.
Led by Coast Unified School District Superintendent Chris Adams, Riptide tapped players from Cambria, Cayucos, Los Osos and San Luis Obispo to win six out of eight games in a talent-rich tournament composed of 15 California teams.
“Wow, that’s what we were hoping to achieve,” said Maddie Adams, who played second base and led the team (unofficially) with 16 hits and nine runs batted in. After winning a game Friday but losing their first game (9-3) on Saturday to the Selma Shock, “We couldn’t even imagine being close to the championship game,” Maddie Adams stated. “We were far, far away from that dream on Saturday.”
But Riptide won two more on Saturday and battled back from the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament on Sunday. And when Maddie Adams — who will play basketball, volleyball, and softball in her upcoming freshman year at Coast Union High School — came to the plate with runners in scoring position, she was thinking, “We need a miracle right now. And we did it. We got farther than what we had dreamed.”
Another Cambria miracle-worker on Riptide was CUHS sophomore Ashley Martinez, who had 10 hits in the tourney and drove in nine runs.
Riptide needed to win the first three games on Sunday to get into the championship game, and they did that thanks in large part to the sturdy pitching of Maddy Davis from Los Osos. Davis, who logged 20 solid innings on Sunday, chalked up 33 total innings in eight games.
“I was a nervous wreck,” said Maddy’s mother, Justine Davis, who watched her daughter pitch every inning of the first three games on Sunday leading up to the championship game with Los Altos. “After the fourth inning of the championship game, Maddy said ‘I can’t do it anymore,’” Justine reported.
“My arm was stiff and I had no strength,” Maddy Davis explained in a phone interview Monday, July 15. The two Riptide pitchers who followed her gave up 10 hits and 9 earned runs in three innings and Los Altos sealed an 11-7 victory and the gold medal. Asked how the arm felt on Monday, Davis said she couldn’t lift it above her head.
Davis, who will attend Morro Bay High School in the fall, is also an avid equestrian competitor; as a 13-year-old she made it to the California State Finals in barrel racing in 2012.
Coast Union sophomore Maddie May, who played center field and shortstop in San Diego — collecting eight hits and driving in five runs — said of Maddy Davis’ effort: “I have never seen anybody pitch that well that consistently game after game. I was so proud of her. I was astonished.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my team,” Maddie May continued. “Coming from such a small area and coming out second in the state in our division, it brings a lot of appreciation for our coaches and what they have taught us.”
Three other key Cambrians on the Riptide team were: CUHS sophomore Ashley Martinez (10 hits and nine RBI), incoming Coast freshmen Tara Covell (a pitcher), and Jazmine Kelleher (who scored three key runs).
Meanwhile, head coach Chris Adams was also in awe of Maddy Davis’ pitching performance, calling her “a machine. She just kept pitching the ball.” And the defense on Sunday was “making gold glove plays left and right. Our defense was nuts. We were diving for balls, making great plays when we needed them the most.”
Chris Adams pointed out that going into the seventh inning of the championship game the teams were tied 7-7. “But Los Altos is a really good team and they earned the gold.”
Still, Riptide’s attitude leading up to the championship on Sunday was, “We’re sending teams home,” Chris Adams recounted. The girls took great pride in the fact that “we sent five teams home. It was all business. We were on a roll. We pounded the ball.
“The umpires came over afterwards and said, ‘We love umpiring your games. Your kids are quick, they’re good, and we don’t have to worry about questionable strikes because your kids hit the ball. Champions don’t take walks — they hit the ball,’” Chris Adams recounted, adding that his team did a great job “staying in the moment. If you make an error, forget about it. Get back in the moment — and they did.”
In a classic understatement Monday over the phone, Chris Adams added, “It was a good weekend.”