Varsity Extra

Strangers help foot bill for California softball team’s trip to Boise

The Foothill Gold U-14 softball team ran a fireworks stand this summer to help raise funds for its trip this week to compete in the ASA U-14 Fastpitch Western National Tournament at the Willow Lane Athletic Complex in Boise.

But two men showed up at the stand on the afternoon of July 4, making off with several thousand dollars worth of fireworks.

“They had to have scouted us out, because they pulled up right when me and another volunteer had people we were helping at our windows,” coach John DiStefano said. “When I saw him grab the boxes, I made a break for him. By the time I got over there, I tried to grab the boxes, but they were already kind of jammed into the seat and the door.

“Then the driver took off. I tried to pull them out, but the car got a little too fast, and I took a pretty good spill. I scrapped up my legs and stuff.”

DiStefano filed a police report, but the suspects have not been found.

The robbery wasn’t the worst part of the ordeal for DiStefano, who then had to break the news to his 12 players.

“At first I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘How could someone do that?’ ” outfielder Alejandra Fonseca said. “It’s taking something that helps out kids.”

Instead of calling off the trip, Karie Pluto, mother of pitcher Emily Haines, set up a GoFundMe web page.

The response was unexpected.

Since the page started July 8, strangers and friends have donated $2,400 toward the team’s expenses, ensuring Foothill Gold wouldn’t have to stay home.

Although the team lost both its pool-play games Wednesday, it’s hoping to regroup for Thursday’s loser-out game against the Oregon Silver Bullets at 8 a.m. on Field One.

“In a way, I think this whole experience has brought us closer,” Fonseca said.

The 34-team tournament, featuring teams from Idaho, California, Oregon, Washington and Utah, continues through the championship game at 4 p.m. Saturday.