10U All Stars highlight a banner summer for GVSLL

When he decided on the 11 players for the Goleta Valley South Little League 10-Under All-Star team, manager Ryan Fell felt this group could achieve something special. The players proved him right. Game after game they delivered in tournament play and ended up making league history.


The Team of the Month Series spotlights great
examples of teamwork in the local sports community

— Presented by Sansum Clinic —

The GVS 10U Stars captured the District 63 and Section 1 titles and became the first 10-under team from the league to win the So Cal Sub-Regional tournament and play for the Southern California State Championship. They finished a banner summer as state runners-up.

Presidio Sports is pleased to recognize the Goleta Valley South Little League 10-Under All Stars as its Team of the Month.

“It was super exciting; we sort of exceeded our expectations, which was fun,” said Fell about his team’s tremendous run through all-star competition. “At the beginning, I was thinking, ‘It would be great to win sections.’ But then to go on and win sub-regionals, which hadn’t been done in the 10-under division, was huge.”

It was an exciting all-star season all around for Goleta Valley South Little League. For the first time in league history, all four of its teams — 10U, 11U, 12U and Juniors won district titles; the 10s, 11s and 12s won section championships and the juniors reached the final.

League president Tyrone Maho said the success of the all-star teams is a reflection of the talent level in the Santa Barbara area.

“As little league president, I was honored to be part of Goleta Valley South Little League this past season, not just for seeing how successful our all-star teams could be, but also for the dedicated play of over 400 young baseball athletes in the greater Santa Barbara area during our regular season this past spring,” he said. “Clearly, the talent level is high in our league, but it was great to see kids of all levels play at Goleta Valley this past season, from our t-ball kids to our Junior Division, boys and girls, from ages 6-13. Seeing these young players enjoy the great sport of baseball, learn about teamwork, competition, improve their skills and challenge themselves, with a positive attitude, made this a great experience for all of our families all year long.”

He’s already looking forward to next year, “building on the great success we had this past season.”

Fell and his coaching staff of Erik Wipf and Ned Schoenwetter knew this group of Cole Schoenwetter, Gino Darke, Evon Weeks, Aidan Mandel, Caden Hodina, Emmett Speake, Nicky Fell, Calvin Wipf, Nathan Lynk, Lance Bermudes and Sutter Locatelli had the talent and focus to have a successful all-star season.

“It was a fantastic group of athletes that are extremely passionate about baseball,” said Fell, whose son Nicky is part of the group.

“There’s an incredible unity,” he added. “The other thing that is particularly cool is the same holds true with the parents. The parents are a incredibly committed group.”

He noted that several fathers came to the practices to offer their assistance. “We have three real coaches and a bunch of volunteer dads who are doing whatever you ask.

“Everybody, the dads, the coaches, the kids, they just love it. It was a team that gelled perfectly together,” said Fell, a former UCSB soccer player.

Fell said the key to the team’s success was its pitching depth. Even in the best-of-three state final series against Highland Little League of San Bernardino, he thought his team’s pitching was better.

“Highland was very good. They definitely were the best hitting team we face and were very tough defensively,” Fell said. “What really hurt us was our top three pitchers were burned (pitched a maximum number of innings) for that first game (a 12-1 loss) because we played back-to-back games (in the sub-regional) against Encino. Two guys were available in Game 2. We competed in Game 2, no questions asked.”

Goleta Valley South lost a heartbreaker, 6-5.

Fell is already thinking about a rematch.

“I can’t wait to play them next year,” he said.

The road to the State Championship started with a dramatic 3-1 win over rival Dos Pueblos Little League for the District 63 title.

“There was a lot of drama,”  recalled Fell, who experienced the drama and intensity of cross-town rivalries as a standout athlete at San Marcos High in the late 1980s. “Dos Pueblos has as good or better pitching than most of the teams we faced all the way through the final. They are a very strong, well-coached team. They just didn’t have the depth we had.”

The confidence and momentum gained after the win over DP carried into the Section 1 Tournament. Goleta Valley South went undefeated and beat Thousand Oaks to advance to the sub-regionals for the first time.

Playing in Long Beach, the GVS 10U Stars beat Golden Hills of Fullerton before suffering a loss against Encino.

“They had a pitcher who was very, very good; probably the best pitcher we saw. He threw hard and had great accuracy,” said Fell.

Dropped into the loser’s bracket, GVS rebounded against Golden Hills and now had to win twice against Encino to advance to the state championship.

In the first  game, Encino couldn’t use its best pitcher, and Goleta Valley South got a strong pitching performance from Cole Schoenwetter and won 9-3.

In the deciding game, GVS fell behind 2-0 after a massive homer from the Encino ace. “It was probably 240 feet,” said Fell.

Unfazed, the local squad battled back. Nicky Fell pitched three shutout innings and GVS won the game, 6-5, to take the sub-regional title.

On the team’s response after the earlier loss to Encino, Fell said it was all about being patient, taking each following game and each pitch one at a time.

“I told them, ‘Let’s compete on every pitch. Let’s not think about a second game — don’t look too far ahead. Do the things we practice on and things will fall into place.’”

The team followed that plan, knocked out Encino’s ace in the final and made league history.

“It’s a group of kids who are a highly competitive and have high expectations of themselves,” Fell said. “That’s something you can’t teach. I don’t have to do a lot rah-rah with these guys. When they get on the field, they hit their switch and do everything they can to win and do the best they can.”