It’s been a busy summer for the Los Banos Skeeters travel softball team, and the two levels (16-and-under and 10-and-under) are about to culminate the season with Amateur Softball Association national tournaments next week.
The national tournament will be the sixth tournament of the summer for both teams. The 10U team will play in Roseville in a 44-team field, and the 16U team will play in a college showcase tournament this weekend in Lancaster before heading to the ASA national tournament in Clovis.
“The development over the summer has been real good,” said Charlie Pikas, who coaches the 10-and-under team with assistants Hannah Cole and Arianna Barton. “We’ve got a group of kids that had a really good weekend, and I’m hoping it’s one of those things that they’re peaking at the right time. I don’t know what to expect going into next week, but I do know that the way we played this last weekend, I feel good about what we’re heading into.”
Ed Monroe, who coaches with Pikas for Pacheco High’s softball team, is in charge of the Skeeters’ 16-and-under team along with his daughter, Kelsie Monroe (a Los Banos High graduate who currently pitches for Bakersfield State), and Felicia Remulla (another LBHS grad who is also a Pacheco High softball assistant coach).
“They’ve all improved individually and collectively,” Monroe said. “The focus has been on doing more advanced portions of the game, and then trying to slow the game down mentally. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in each of them all summer long. I told them at the beginning of the season that success is going to be determined by individual growth. At the end of the year, the question is did I improve, and did I improve individually so that I can be a better teammate and play a better role.”
For Pikas, going from coaching the Pacheco High team in the spring to the 10U team over the summer was a big change.
“They’re like little sponges,” he said. “Some of them have played travel ball before, but I don’t know if the coaching style that we bring to it, they’ve ever experienced that before. There’s so much teaching that they’re learning the game at a level that I wish I could have learned when I was 10 years old.
“They’re taking it in, and the beauty of it is at this age, they’re still so raw that you can actually see when they get something. When the light bulb clicks, you can actually see it out on the field, because it’s such a big jump.”
Pikas said the team went winless in its first tournament, but has made such big strides that it made the semifinals of two tournaments and placed second at the Mountain Blast Tournament last weekend in Sonora.
The Skeeters were formerly known as the Tigers Youth Softball program, but the team changed its name with Pacheco High now on the scene.
“It’s just one of those things where our program’s always been about promoting all the kids in town,” Pikas said, “so we dropped the previous name to go with a neutral name so that people didn’t affiliate it with one thing or the other. It’s just a softball team.”
Another travel team is headed for a big tournament next week – the Los Banos Sun Devils, a 14-and-under team, is headed to the USSSA World Series July 28 through Aug. 3 in West Covina. The Sun Devils are coming off of a win in the Summer Heat Tournament last weekend in Stockton.