No matter what life throws at us, it pays to keep on swinging.
The softball season for the James A. Garfield Senior High School Lady Bulldogs of Los Angeles, California got off to a bumpy start. The team was just coming back to school full time after COVID, and their season was fraught with injuries and discouraged players. By the time the playoffs rolled around, they hadn’t won a single game.
Everything that could go wrong that season, did. Their home field was even under construction, so they had nowhere to practice. While other teams were using batting cages and practicing on their own softball diamonds, the Lady Bulldogs were borrowing space from other school teams and the local college.
Head coach Karla Bernal had her work cut out for her when it came to keeping her team’s morale up. She gave them lots of pep talks going into the playoffs, telling them not to be discouraged by the fact that they were 0 and 7. Since no one expected the team to even make the playoffs, why not just go out there and have fun?
“We just need to go in there, keep doing what we’ve been doing, that’s believing that we belong and believing that we can compete at this level, not letting our failures define who we are, and always putting our teammates first because when we do that, we are going to get the results out,” she remembers telling her team.
The team had to win their play-in game to qualify for the playoffs. Incredibly, their luck changed on a dime during the game, which they won handily. Before they knew it, they were facing some of the top teams in the state — and winning!
In the final championship game, the Lady Bulldogs won 5 to 3 against defending champions the Gardena High School Panthers!
Karla says being the underdogs was what spurred her team onto victory, and she couldn’t be prouder of the way her team stepped up to take the lead.
“I think the fact that the odds were against us, once playoffs started, it just lit something up for my team,” she said. “I think they just started believing in their capability and their preparation and they just took off and represented our school really well.”
This out-of-nowhere win marks the first time this team has won the championship game in 27 years! These young women simply refused to give up, no matter how difficult their task was at the time. Way to go, Lady Bulldogs!
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