The Calaveras Redskins were leading Summerville 1-0 on March 30 in San Andreas. It was inning No. 5, there were two outs, and Summerville's Courtney Robinson hit a whistling line drive that had eyes for right field.
Redskin junior second baseman Courtney Tarbat made a leaping head-first dive to her left, extended her glove and engulfed that softball before it touched ground.
"Unbelievable play," recalled Summerville head coach Ben Watson. "Courtney Tarbat makes this incredible diving catch at a hugely critical time in the game and robs us of what looked like a sure-hit. Then I remember that, while her teammates were going wild, Courtney just got up all nonchalant. She had just made this awesome play - which was as good a play as I saw any second baseman make all year - and you could tell that to Courtney ... she was just doing her job. And I thought right then, 'That is how softball should be played.' "
"Whenever Courtney made one of those spectacular catches," said 10-year
Redskins head coach Dominic Vasile, "you could just see our whole team
light up. Our whole infield fed off her. She's a highly intelligent
fielder. She's always thinking, 'Where do I need to be?' 'What's the
situation?' 'What do we need to do as an infield?' And then she'd be
vocal. Courtney Tarbat is so enthusiastic. Courtney Tarbat loves
And Courtney Tarbat is the 2012 Union Democrat All-Area Most Valuable Player.
"When Courtney found out she was the All-Area MVP, she called me and
she was beyond excited," said Vasile. "Of course, I was just as excited
as she was. As a coach, when you have a player like Courtney that comes
to practice and works as hard as she possibly can every single day, and
then produces at such an outstanding level in the games like Courtney
did, you're thrilled that your player gets rewarded like this.
"But as excited as I was, I wasn't surprised because I knew that
Courtney deserved the award. But Courtney couldn't fathom that she was
getting the same award that Tanna Bindi, Kelli Keefe and Kendra Bennett
had gotten. Courtney has always looked up to those three girls and
couldn't believe that she was in that same group. But I told Courtney,
'You made it. You're the All-Area MVP like Tanna and Kelli and Kendra
were because you deserve it. You had an amazing season.' "
Indeed she did.
Tarbat batted .467, had an on-base-percentage of .587, and .700
slugging percentage. She had two out-of-the-park home runs, and in 69
plate appearances only struck out three times.
"Our goal this season was to not let Courtney Tarbat beat us," said
Bret Harte head coach Heath Lane. "But she still beat us. She'd wait,
wait, wait, stay patient at the plate - and then beat you. She has a
great approach at the plate. She goes up there with a purpose, and she
almost always accomplishes that purpose.
"Some people might look at Courtney and think that because she makes
things look so natural, that her abilities are all due to being gifted.
But, in actuality, it's her work ethic which sets her apart. Courtney
being named All-Area MVP is a great pick and it is very well deserving.
That's who I would have picked."
"I just worked hard and hoped for the best," said Tarbat. "I didn't
ever think I'd get the MVP award. Every year I'd see who got the award
and I'd think, 'If I can only be like them.' I've looked up to Kelli
Keefe and Kendra Bennett for so long and I was able to play with them
(on Vasile's summer teams) and to now share this honor with them is an
Tarbat and Calaveras were 20-8 this season and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Championships.
"Since we were such a young team, we knew it would be tough to get in
the playoffs," said Tarbat. "But we figured if we each worked hard, it
would happen. (Redskin assistant coach) Randy Jasper and Dom did
everything they could for us. A lot of kudos belong to Randy and Dom."
Not that he minded, but Dominic Vasile was late for dinner a lot this spring.
"Well," said Vasile, "we'd be done with a solid, long, productive
softball practice and the girls would start to leave. And then Courtney
Tarbat, one of our captains and a true team leader, would look at me
and ask, 'Can I stay? Can I take a few more ground balls?' And I'd say,
'Sure.' And then another girl would stay. And then another. And before
you knew it, the whole team was running back onto the field and we were
right back to a full team practice. Courtney would get things started
and everyone followed her lead.
"Courtney is one of the best team players that I've ever coached. She's
not at all about individual statistics or anything like that. If she
goes 4 for 4, hits a home run and we lose, she's wondering what she
could have done differently to help us win. That's what you want in a
Said Tarbat, "I had a good feeling that this would be a good season
right from the start when we beat (eventual Mother Lode League
champion) Argonaut 2-1 at their field (March 23). My favorite game was
our first win over Bret Harte (April 18) when we 10-run-ruled them.
They had knocked us out of the playoffs the year before, so we had to
get them back."
In that 13-2 home win over Bret Harte, Tarbat had two hits, two RBIs and a double.
"The game I'll remember most this year with regards to Courtney," said
Vasile, "was against Summerville later in the season (May 2). She just
dominated, took over the game and we won (16-4)."
In that road contest against the Bears, Tarbat walked once, had two
hits, scored three times, knocked in four RBIs and got utterly violent
with one softball - blasting a towering home run over the center field
"Courtney has a complete understanding of hitting," said Vasile. "She
understands situations. Runners on? She's thinking of making contact,
moving them over or bringing them home. With no runners on, she is
telling herself, 'I must get on' and 'What's the best way to get on? A
walk? Hit up the middle?' She works so hard - physically and mentally -
rarely gets fooled and always hits that ball hard.
"She has already had a phenomenal career for us. As a sophomore on
varsity, she hit .411, made First-Team All-Area and All-MLL. Then, this
year, she is again way over .400 and adds power to her game. Courtney
helped lead a young team to the playoffs where we were neck-and-neck
with the eventual section champ (Hughson) for five innings. And, after
that game, I'm talking to our young team and telling them what a fine
season they had and that, some time soon, they should start thinking
about the next season. I didn't really mean that very week that they
had to start thinking about next season. But I look over at Courtney
and - her being the competitor that she is - she's nodding her head and
saying, 'Yes, tomorrow, let's start thinking about next season.' She,
literally, meant that she'd start thinking about next season the very
"How can Courtney possibly top these past two seasons? How can you top
being the best player in our area as a junior? I don't know. But if
anyone can, it's Courtney Tarbat."