By Zach Alvira
GSN Sports Editor

For the first time since 2015, Gilbert Softball Little League will be represented in the majors division of the state tournament.

The Gilbert all-stars advanced to the tournament after a two-game sweep of Queen Creek’s Little League All-Star softball team. Play begins on July 5 in Cottonwood, Ariz.

“This is such a great group of girls and families,” Gilbert coach Bret Armstrong said. “I’ve been coaching all-star baseball and softball for 10 years and this is by far one of the better groups that I have coached.”

The team came together after a tryout period which began on June 1. Comprised of girls ages 10-12, they were nominated by teammates and coaches based on regular-season play.

They began practicing nearly three weeks ago, but have already established chemistry as a group.

“Each one of the girls listens and wants to improve,” Armstrong said. “I’ve never made it this far as a player or coach. I’m probably having as much fun as the girls are.”

Armstrong said he finds joy in helping lead young athletes to reach their full potential in baseball and softball. After moving to Mesa in 1983, Armstrong began playing in the Mesa Southern Little League before attending Mesa High School.

He shared his passion for baseball and softball with his two kids. His son, Cole, 13, played on several all-star teams for Gilbert National Little League. His daughter, Addyson, 10, is among the 13 players on the majors all-star softball team heading to state.

“I wanted to coach and be around them as much as I could when they started to play,” Armstrong said. “So this is a lot of fun for me to share this experience with them.”

It’s been a banner year for Gilbert Softball Little League in its 10-year anniversary. Along with the majors team, the 8 to 10 year olds also advanced to the tournament after beating Queen Creek. The seniors (12-16) and 9 to 11-year-old majors earned automatic bids into the tournament. It’s the second time in three years the 9-11 All-Stars have qualified for the tournament. This year, they head to Sierra Vista with confidence after a strong showing in scrimmages against the older teams.

“We had a really good year with a good group of girls and coaches,” said Angie Davidson, president of the Gilbert Softball Little League. “That’s been huge because these are all volunteers. We can’t do it without them.”

Davidson, who coaches the 8 to 10-year-old team, has spent the past two seasons as president of the league. The success of all age groups has been welcoming, but Davidson said the work is far from over.

Only the majors and seniors team are able to advance to the western regionals in California should they win the state tournament. Should they win in California, they would advance to the Little League Softball World Series in Oregon.

“It’s an overall great experience for the girls,” Davidson said. “Whether we win or lose, it’s about creating that experience for these girls and the love of softball.”

The Gilbert Softball Little League has started fundraising to support travel costs for all of its teams to take part in the state tournament. Any business willing to sponsor Gilbert Softball Little League is asked to email Angie Davidson president@azgsll.org.

PayPal accounts have also been set up to help fundraise for Gilbert’s teams. Donations for the 9-11 team can be made at paypal.me/pools/c/8fVU5ONwUo, while those for the other teams can be made at paypal.me/azgsll?locale.x=en_US.