The California State Games Experience (2016)

As a result of a 5th place finish at the 2016 NorCal C tournament, the 2016 12C Shockwave team managed by Vanessa Chagoya traveled to San Diego to participate in the state championships as part of the California State Games. This trip report is provided to give Sunnyvale parents and players an idea of what to expect from the State Championship Tournament experience. Click on photos for a full image.

Qualifying For the “C” State Championship

The road to San Diego started in Hayward on June 24th, at the NorCal 12C championships. Here, 22 Northern California teams representing cities from Soledad to Milbrae competed in a double elimination tournament for the privilege of being invited to the state wide tournament, with only the top 8 earning a berth.

Shockwave got off to a rough start at the NorCal with a first round loss to Belmont Blast (Kay) on Friday, but bounced back with four consecutive wins over Milbrae, West Valley, Mtn View/Los Altos and Campbell, before losing to a second Belmont Blast team (Uozumi). That performance earned the Chagoya Shockwave team a tie for 5th place with LGCS Magic, and an invitation to San Diego for the California State Games and the ASA “C” championships. So the team decided to go to San Diego and hopefully avoid a “lose two, go to the zoo” experience,

Planning for the California State Games

The San Diego tournament spanned 3 days, from Friday July 15th until the following Sunday, with 3 games starting at 8am on Friday. Almost all of the team arrived on Thursday and stayed at the same hotel, the Residence Inn Bayfront which was located on the waterfront just off PCH near the USS Midway museum.The team was fortunate to secure a large van, allowing much of the bulky gear to be transported down in one vehicle, and also making it easy to transport a lot of the players to and from the fields. With the championship game potentially occurring on Sunday evening, most made plans for a late departure or staying over a few extra days.

In preparation the team also ordered custom tee-shirts for the trip, as well as trading pins (more about those later).

Day 1 (Thursday) – Travel and San Diego Arrival


After a long day’s drive most of the team checked into the hotel around 6pm. The Residence Inn is huge and very new, with an attached parking structure and very large dining hall for breakfast. Given a schedule starting with 7am warmups at a field 30 minutes away, most families handled dinner on their own as quickly as possible (local Ralph’s grocery or restaurants at the nearby Seaport Village mall), settled in and got to sleep early.


Day 2 (Friday) – Just keep winning…
Friday morning the team met downstairs in the lobby at 6:15 am to head out to the field at Mt San Miguel park in Chula Vista. That was so early that the dining room for the included breakfast at the hotel wasn’t even open yet. Under overcast skies, Shockwave opened the tournament against Santa Maria Outlawz. After a shaky first two innings, the team fell behind 0-2. However behind Pooja Kotha’s pitching they settled down, and shut out the Outlawz for the rest of the game, finishing out strong with an 8-2 win.

The next game in the winners bracket was at noon against a very good Santa Paula team. Shockwave got off to a fast start  with 4 runs in the first inning and held on for a close 8-5 win. Katie Lee pitched with Pooja coming in relief to finish the game.

The third and last game of the day was played at 2pm against the Goleta Storm. In another very tough defensive game, Shockwave held on to a slim 2-1 lead until the bottom of the 5th when Anne Hu’s lead off single sparked a 4 run inning to put the team ahead for good. Morgan Curtis held Goleta to 1 run through 5 innings for the win, with Pooja again coming in relief to finish out the 6th and 7th innings.

Day 2 (Friday) – California State Games Opening Ceremony at Qualcomm Stadium

With 3 hard fought wins under their belt, the team packed up and headed straight to Qualcomm Stadium for the California Games Opening Ceremony, one of the highlights of the entire weekend. The California Games is actually a state wide amateur athletics competition for several sports including baseball, basketball, soccer, as well as softball. Arriving at 4pm and parking near gate F, the team walked over to the athletes parade assembly area by gate L. Here all the teams from the various sports meet to get organized into a parade to enter the stadium and walk around the the field. But until about 6pm the teams are free to mill about.

For softball players there is also pin trading. Most teams coming to San Diego have custom metal trading pins made, and teams walk around and trade pins with other teams. It is a lot of fun for the players, and it was common to see 12U girls trading pins with 8U players. Many of the pins had elaborate designs including moving parts and LED lights. Shockwave had a unique glow in the dark design this year that was highly sought after. Each girl had 30 pins to trade,  but found that really only 20 or so fit on the lanyard.


Leaving the players with the coaches, the parents met up in the stadium and settled in. The event itself is set up to use half of the stadium facing a stage where a band was cranking out classic rock tunes while the audience streamed in. Given the rush to get to the stadium after the game, the only food options were those provided at Qualcomm, which consisted of a Chick-fil-A truck in the assembly area, and nachos, hot dogs and beer at the stadium concessions. Not a lot to choose from.

The ceremony started with a Navy SEAL team parachuting into Qualcomm during the national anthem, followed by the parade of athletes, alphabetically by sport name, and then by team name. The softball players were the largest group of athletes, given all the teams representing 8U, 10U, and 12U “C” championship teams. Finally around 6:30 Shockwave entered the stadium for their lap around the stadium. After the athletes were seated, the show continued with a tap dance troupe, dogs doing Frisbee tricks, and a BMX stunt bike team. The finale was a fireworks show. Overall it was a great and memorable event for all who attended.

The team headed back to the hotel, where we had pizza delivered to the deck, and the girls had a blast in the pool celebrating a very good day.

Day 3 (Saturday) – Running Into the Champs

As a result of the great showing on day one, the team earned a later start time on Saturday with the first game at 2pm in Chula Vista vs San Juan Capistrano. The team took the opportunity to sleep in and most rolled into the hotel dining hall around 8:30 to enjoy the breakfast spread including do it yourself mini-waffles! After a few hours of relaxing, the team headed out again for the game. After such a great showing on Saturday there were high expectations. By winning just 2 games on Saturday, the team would qualify for the state championship game on Sunday. However it was not to be.

Holding onto a 0-0 tie for two innings, and falling behind 0-3 after four, Shockwave could manage just 2 hits for the game, and eventually fell to Capo 7-0 with Pooja pitching in the loss. Capo would eventually go on to beat El Segundo to win the state “C” championship.

The team headed back to San Diego, and decided to meet up at Seaport Village at an area where there are several take out restaurants with open seating. Mexican seemed to the be the favorite, and the girls had a great time hitting parents up for money for ice cream and then wandering down to the pier to goof around. It was a great and relaxing way for everyone to decompress after a tough loss to a team most thought we could have beaten on our best day.

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Day 4 (Sunday) – A Fight to the Finish

With the loss on Saturday, Shockwave fell into the loser bracket still with a chance to win the championship. Sunday started with an 8am game at the Santee Town Center Community Park against the Central Coast Riptide from Pismo Beach. The players packed into the van and a few cars for the 7am warmups while other parents packed up and checked out of the hotel. The game was another tough defensive game with two very good pitchers dueling it out. Shockwave struggled against the Riptide’s starting pitcher, but kept chipping away. Going into the 6th inning Riptide was holding an 0-2 lead, but Emily Guerra’s two RBI single tied it. In the 7th with Pooja on base after a 2 out triple, Aimee Thompson’s deep fly ball to right field was caught to end the inning with a 2-2 tie, but Riptide managed one run in bottom of the inning for the win.

Although the loss ended a run at the championship, everyone was proud of the way the girls battled back to tie the game, and with an overall record of 3-2, Shockwave finished the tournament in a tie for 5th place with Almaden Valley out of the 22 teams representing all of California.