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Taking a shot at the national stage

By: Brett Ransford Telegraph Correspondent
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Oak Ridge lacrosse star Morgan Bakarich traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, for the 2011 Under Armour All-American Classic tournament after being named to the first-ever West Girls All-Stars team earlier this summer. From July 1-3 the 10 regional Under Armour Underclass teams, comprised of about 24 high school players each, separate boys and girls teams, competed in the All-American Classic in the Johnny Unitas Stadium on the Townson University campus. Bakarich and 22 other girls were selected to represent the Under Armour Underclass West Girls All-Stars after completing tryouts on June 4-5 against nearly 50 girls. The Underclassmen Games are played between the annually selected lacrosse players from their regions. They must have competed at least a freshman year of high school and live within their team’s region. In Bakarich’s case the West team spanned California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon. Both the South teams and West teams are the newest additions to the All-America Underclassmen Games. The Games consist of four games in pool play. The top two teams advance to the Final Four and the final two played in the Underclass Championship. Bakarich and her West All-Stars lost all four lost first 16-2 to Long Island, 16-3 to Midwest, 17-7 to Philly and 20-6 to D.C., who went on to win the Underclass Championship. The now 10-region All-American teams include the Baltimore All-Stars, Long Island (NY), Upstate NY, Midwest, New England, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., South and West. Bakarich was the only California player (14 total) selected from anywhere north of the Bay Area. Her team included two girls graduating in 2014, 10 from her class, 2013 and 11 from 2012. At halftime of the Senior Boys game Bakarich and her teammates were presented medals for their participation in the event. She said one of her favorite parts was being in front of the ESPN cameras, as both the halftime ceremonies and game were both nationally televised. “It was awesome,” said Bakarich. “I got to play with girls from all over and it gives me an idea of what it will be like to play in college and join together as one team and strive to do the best we can.” Bakarich has played lacrosse for seven years, playing with Scorpion Lacrosse in Danville and club lacrosse for BearLax, which is headed by former University of California, Berkeley coach Theresa Sherry. She also played for EDH Youth Lacrosse and American River Lacrosse teams and for Bay Area team Triple Threat. She currently plays with the 2013 BearLax under coach Sherry. Ed Holton, Oak Ridge head coach along with Eldore Wood, selected Bakarich to the varsity squad as a freshman. She was one of the top stick handlers and goal scorers in her starting position as an attacker and midfielder, according to Holton. In her sophomore season, the 16-year-old led her team with 74 goals and 43 assists, which ranked 19th in the state and the seventh best among underclassmen. Holton said the Under Armour All-American selection deservedly puts Bakarich among the ranks of her contemporaries. “She got exposure to top quality players and top quality coaches from the northeast, not to mention I’m sure she gained some confidence being able to gauge herself against the best,” said Holton. “She’s a very hard-nosed, desirable player and leader and just a great kid.” Three teammates from Bakarich’s Scorpion and NorCal teams, including coach Rick Jeffery’s daughter Erin Jeffery, also made the West team. The talented young star played five years of Division I soccer, CYO and AAU basketball for six years, fast-pitch softball and the Oak Ridge varsity tennis team as a freshman. Christa, Bakarich’s mother, knows the natural talent of her daughter well. Her two children Morgan and older brother Blake (19), who played football and lacrosse, are sources of pride. “I’m really proud of her for her efforts and commitment to the game,” said Christa. “I love watching Morgan play because she has always had a natural talent especially when it comes to her stick skills and knowledge of the game. Everyone in our family grew up excelling in sports, but the best thing I can say is that my children are happy and healthy and that is the best feeling a parent can have.” Bakarich is likely to stay happy and hopefully healthy as she leaves on Wednesday July 13 for the Capitol Cup tournament in Virginia and then to Boston for the Rise tournament. She will be assisting Cal coach Sherry with the Sherry Sports Lacrosse Camp for girls ages 6-11 at Mather Field in Sacramento from 9 a.m. to noon July 25-28.