A number of the softball players who end up being standouts at San Benito High get their start with the Hollister Heat. The Heat is a great program for youths to learn the basics and fundamentals of the sport through practices and games. The Heat’s 10-and-under team finished its summer season with a second-place showing in the Strawberry Jam Tournament in Watsonville on July 24.
The Heat played in four tournaments this summer: the NorCal Qualifier, the Manzanita Mayhem, the Blast by the Bay and the Strawberry Jam. Michael Montoya, who is the manager of the 10-and-under team, said the girls displayed tremendous improvement from the beginning of the season to the end.
“The girls were hitting .200 in the first tournament, but after that, they hit close to .400 in every tournament after,” he said.
The Heat roster includes Alexis Montoya, Aaliyah Gastelum, Isabella Buzzetta, Stacia De La Torre, McKayla Mead, Jada Speech, Samantha Penney, Samantha Gaeta, Chelsie Kutz, Eliana Hatchett, Malia Vidal, Arianna Rueda and Morgan Salamida. The coaches include Bryan Penney, Kevin Hatchett and Justin Mead.
In the Strawberry Jam Tournament, the Heat went 2-2, with wins over the Vallejo Hurricanes and a semifinal victory over the other Heat 10-and-under squad. Hollister lost to the Black Magic from Los Gatos in the Silver Division championship game, 5-0.
Montoya said the team received solid pitching from Gastelum, Penney and Gaeta. Buzzetta, a first baseman, hit a 200-foot home run against the Hurricanes.
“She probably batted over .650 as our No. 3 hitter,” Montoya said.
De La Torre hit an inside-the-park grand slam against Vallejo, and Alexis Montoya had a .625 on-base percentage while making five putouts from her center field position. Michael Montoya said the squad also had stellar defensive play from right fielder Mead, shortstop Kutz, catcher Rueda, left fielder Salamida and third baseman Vidal.
Gaega provided the team with a potent bat as well, homering in the Manzanita Tournament. Rueda, De La Torre, Montoya and Buzzetta and Kutz consistently produced offensively.