SPARTA, NJ – For the first time in the history of Sparta girls softball, the Sparta Diamond U12 team of 10 girls will be competing in the World Series of Softball. Having played together for several years, the girls have created a strong team that will be traveling to Florida to play in the 2015 Babe Ruth World Series July 29 through Aug. 5.
Their season record of 43-16 makes them one of the top two teams in Northern New Jersey. Sparta Diamond assistant coach Jason Villar said, “We won two very challenging tournaments this year, as we try and seek out different teams to challenge the girls and test our ability against the best. The Diamonds were back-to-back champs at Tenafly and also won a competitive tournament in East Brunswick. It is not commonplace to win multiple tournaments in a year and the Diamonds program takes great pride in representing all of Sparta, NJ when we travel to play teams.”
The U12 team won the Babe Ruth section qualifying tournament when they defeated Denville 4-3. “It was a thrilling game, as we played great defense and had big hits when we needed it,” said Villar.
The win against the season rival got the Diamonds into the Babe Ruth Regional Qualifier tournament in Mt Olive last week, July 15 to 19. Starting slow with a loss they banged up four consecutive wins beating the Delaware and South Jersey State champion teams. The final win came at the expense of Ridley, the Pennsylvania State Champions. They won that game 11-7, after putting up an impressive 7-0 early lead.
Villar said, “With the chips on the line, the Sparta Diamonds do what the Sparta Diamonds do and that is rally and win big games. Sparta stormed back scoring four runs to snatch victory and have a celebration on the field in a moment the girls, friends, parents and our fans shall never forget.”
The Sparta Diamond U12 team is competitive with season that goes from March until late October. It requires a large commitment of time by the girls and families. “It can be a grind hitting in the cages and working out early in the morning or at night after a long day of school, but the girls never complain because they have had their eye on the prize and this trip to the Word Series in Florida is that prize,” said Villar.
The team’s coach and Sparta Diamond travel program Presidents is Joe Jacobs. The players are:
- Olivia Bouma-Hannam
- Lizzi Botta
- Alyssa Garcia
- Emily Jacobs
- Alexis Lopresti
- Ashton Martini
- Bridget McNally
- Kenzie Merwin
- Aura Rispoli
- Maya Tomko
- Stephanie Villar
Assistant Coach Villar said, “The girls have faced a lot of challenges this year, from crushing defeats to long hot days of multiple games, but two things sum up this team; heart and a great group of girls. It is not a cliché, our team is a true team. They hang together, they enjoy each other’s company and pull for each other. Not all teams or programs at the competitive travel level of softball have that kind of bond. The coaches could not be more proud of them on the field, but they make the program and their parents proud off the field, which is just as important.”
The team is asking for assistance in covering the expenses of getting to the World Series in Florida. A ‘Go Fund Me’ page has been established to raise funds to cover travel, lodging and expenses for the seven days
More than 1800 teams start the season with the same dream of winning their way to Florida. The Sparta Diamonds are one of only 16 teams that remain. “That is not done by luck, it is not done by chance, it was done by a team,” said Coach Chris Bouna-Hannam.