Ali Martinez was one of six players from the state of Oregon to compete in the 12-U USA Softball All-American Games in Oklahoma City, Okla. in June (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
Ali Martinez has always had a passion for softball. But it wasn’t until recently where she discovered how good she really is.
Martinez got the opportunity to play in the 12-U USA Softball All-American Games at the National Softball Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City, Okla., which took place June 8-10. She was one of only six players from Oregon selected to compete in the 12-U age bracket.
Martinez attended a tryout for the event back in February, which took place in Washington and featured more than 90 players. Just over a month later, she found out she was one of 15 players that was selected for the tournament to represent region nine (Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Montana).
“I honestly cried when I first found out,” Martinez said. “To say that you’re an All-American player is just a crazy feeling.”
There were 10 regions featured in this tournament, which featured players from all across the country — some regions had multiple 15-player teams.
Martinez was required to raise her own funds from the trip, but thanks to selling beef jerky as well as valuables on various auction apps, collecting pop cans and receiving generous donations from family friends and members of the Keizer community, she was able to gain the funds required for travel and hotel accommodations for her and her family.
When Martinez got to the field for practice the day before the tournament began, she was in awe.
“When you first walk into the stadium, it’s the most beautiful thing ever,” Martinez said of the field that plays host to the Women’s College World Series. “When you realize that this is the place where all the amazing softball players have played, it just hits you.”
During the five-game tournament, Martinez played third base and shortstop and helped region nine win three out of their five tournament games. Her biggest contribution came in the fourth game as her two-run single in the first inning gave region nine a 3-0 win over region seven (red).
“It was cool to go against some of the really good girls from places like California and Texas,” Martinez said. “It’s crazy to know that you’re playing against girls from everywhere in the United States.”
While she was thrilled to show her skills against some of the best talent in the country, Martinez also greatly enjoyed the friendships and bonds that she formed with many of the other players at the tournament.
“I got to know a lot of the girls. They were all really welcoming,” Martinez said. “We had some really good connections. I had actually played against some of my Oregon teammates in the past, but I never thought I was going to be buddy-buddy with them.”
Even though she is only going into eighth grade at Claggett Creek Middle School, Martinez already has her sights set on playing major college softball.
Martinez takes hitting lessons from former Oregon Duck star Alexa Peterson, but after visiting Oklahoma City and seeing that UCLA has won 13 National Championships, she now has shifted her focus to hopefully one day become a Bruin.
“I have always wanted to play for the Ducks, but after seeing how many World Series that UCLA has gone to, I kind of started to change my mind while I was over there,” Martinez said. “Knowing that UCLA is a big college, I know that I’m going to have to work even harder to get into it.”