Compton wins inaugural Finch All-Star Classic

Youth softball team is honored at Nationals Park

July 16th, 2018

WASHINGTON -- There was an unmistakable vibe prior to Monday afternoon's championship game of the Jennie Finch All-Star Classic.

"We never sounded that loud in the dugout," said Jasmine Vasquez, an All-Star catcher for Major League Baseball's Compton Youth Academy in California. "It was cool to hear everyone come together. This morning, we were like, 'We have to put on our jams. We have to get ready.'"

Compton scored a pair of early runs, and then broke the game open with a seven-run fifth inning to take the Finch Classic championship with a 9-3 victory over the host Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.

"A lot of people are like, 'They are from Compton. They can't do this. They can't play.' But here we are," said Maya DeSota, the third baseman for the team who delivered a pair of RBI singles. "We showed them."

As a result of their victory, Compton was honored on the field across town at Nationals Park prior to Monday night's Major League Baseball Home Run Derby. Finch presented them with the trophy.

"These girls just let loose," coach Bryana Simpson said. "I couldn't be more proud of them."

Simpson used to play for a team at the MLB Compton Youth Academy when she was 16.

"Now I am 27. I work here. I love it," she said. "They are just trying to get more kids to love the game of baseball and softball."

This was the first year for the Finch All-Star Classic. Eight All-Star teams from youth academies across the country participated as part of MLB's initiative to help grow the game. There were round-robin games at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy on the southeast side of town Friday and Saturday. The semifinals took place Sunday followed by Monday's championship game.

• Jennie Finch Classic highlights softball's rise

Commissioner Rob Manfred recently named Finch the softball ambassador for Major League Baseball.

"It's surreal to be honest. I have to pinch myself," Finch said as she watched Monday's title game unfold. "I am just so elated for these girls and the opportunity they have. Major League Baseball is stepping up to the plate in this enormous way. These girls have big dreams, and this is one of those events that hopefully can change their lives and encourage them to go after whatever they hope for."

Compton jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning. Daisy Estavil led off with a single and then scored on a hit by DeSota. Two batters later, DeSota came across on a fielder's choice.

The game stayed scoreless over the next three innings, as starting pitchers Madison Griggs of Compton and Raye Thomas of Washington dueled.

Washington jumped on the board in the top of the fifth after Taylor Harris doubled to left field. She was replaced by a pinch-runner, Courtney Parker, who scored on a fielder's choice, cutting Compton's lead to 2-1.

But then Compton sent 13 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth to put the game out of reach.

Washington added two more in the top of the sixth on a two-run double down the right-field line by Ashley Fultz and then loaded the bases in the seventh but did not score.

Relief pitcher Mariah Leon came on to get the final three outs in the seventh for Compton.

Washington coach LeAnne Cardwell said of her team's fight to the finish, "This team has more heart than any team I have ever coached. They were amazing. I am so proud of them. They battled to the end."