The Monarchs 16U team was a co-champion of the fall TCS NIT Sparklers/Fireworks tournament.

Jeff Blanco has had a long and successful coaching career including winning a PGF 16U National Championship when with the Firecrackers in 2011 behind the pitching and hitting of his daughter, Tera Blanco, who went on to become an All-American at Michigan.

Since starting the Monarchs organization in 2016, he has continued to field strong teams and this year’s 16U squad had a good summer and fall and looks to be building momentum heading into 2019’s summer club competition.

Led by one of the top 2020 prospects in the nation, Taylor Caudill--who can take over a game in the circle and at the plate--the 16U team has been together for years and is deep and talented.

We got with Coach Trung Nguyen to learn more about the team, it’s players and history… here’s a closer look…

Jeff Blanco, founder of the Monarchs organization.

When did the Monarchs 16U team start and what was the reason it began?
The Monarchs Softball Organization was started by Coach Jeff Blanco in 2016. I coached for the Firecrackers and Batbusters before joining the Monarchs in 2016 as a second-year 14U team. Coach Blanco has over 15 years of travel ball coaching experience and over the years has fielded top teams at every age division. Prior to founding Monarchs Softball, Coach Blanco had much success in leading his Firecracker teams to numerous top finishes, including the 2011 PGF 16U National Championship and the 2013 16U Colorado Fireworks championship.

Where are you based and where do your athletes come from?
The Monarchs are based in La Habra, California. Our girls come from Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County.

What was the purpose of creating the team, was it primarily to showcase players, win titles, develop skills or for some other reason?
The purpose of creating this team was to assemble and develop some of the top players in the country to create a team that will compete on a national basis and to showcase our players to the top college softball programs, at all levels, in the nation. It is the goal of this team to continue the success of past teams under Coach Blanco’s direction.

What have been some of your successes in terms of winning or placing at events?
Our Monarchs 16U Gold team had a great 2018 summer. The 2019 players moved up to 18U and the 2020 players stepped in and haven’t missed a beat. This year’s Monarchs 16U Gold team has gone 16-2 in the three tournaments we’ve played in. We were champions of the 1st ever TCS/OnDeck Organizational Challenge. We were also Co-Champions at the TCS NIT Sparklers/Fireworks.

Here is our Monarch 16U Gold tournament results from this past summer till now:

  • June/July 2018:  13th place Colorado Fireworks - Power Pool
  • July 2018:  5th place Atlanta Legacy
  • July 2018:  3rd place PGF Platinum Nationals
  • October 2018:  OnDeck & TCS Organizational Challenge Champions
  • October 2018:  TCS NIT Sparkler/Firework Co-Champs

Mariah Melendez (left) and JJ Nguyen of Monarchs 16U hold the trophy after the So Cal club team won the first-ever TCS/OnDeck Organizational Challenge.

What, in your opinion, makes the Monarchs organization unique?
What makes us unique is that Coach Blanco knows every player and is personally vested in each player’s success, on and off the field, and he provides hitting and fielding lessons for all the players. When he talks to college coaches about the player, he is giving them first-hand personal knowledge of the player’s skills.

How many teams are there in the organization overall?
There are seven teams: we have an 18U Gold, 16U Gold, 16U Futures, 14U Gold and three 12U teams.

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