MILLTOWN, NJ - It's been a pretty special July for soon-to-be Joyce Kilmer seventh grader Sasha Soffer. Earlier this summer Soffer was a part of the history-making U12 softball team that claimed the borough's first-ever District 10 championship. Last year, she made history with the U10 team that brought home Milltown's first U10 District 10 title.
"I am proud to be part of a team that brought two district banners to Milltown," Soffer said. "It was a little bit like being on a travel team because we had to play teams from other towns to win the title. I got to play with girls that weren't on my regular rec team and that was fun. Playing softball is fun and I really love it, but being part of a winning team is even better."
Soffer, who plays second base and the outfield along with a bit of catching, has been playing softball since she was seven. After the district championships and sectionals, Soffer headed down south to compete in the All-American games in Florida.
The All-American games are sponsored by the United States Specialty Sports Association and was a fastpitch tournament featuring softball players from all over the country. Soffer attended a tryout in Easton, Pennsylvania back in May and was invited to suit up for the Great Lakes Region, joining players from Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Oklahoma.
The tournament included regional teams from the Great Lakes, Far West, Northeast, Northwest, Midwest, Southeast, Central and Atlantic. All the games were played in the USSSA Space Coast Complex in Viera from July 22 through July 27. Each team was coached by college players and the girls from each team were given the opportunity to participate in skills clinics run by players from Florida's USSSA's Pride. The games were livestreamed so friends and family back home in Milltown could keep tabs on Soffer and her team.
"Basically, it is an all-star event where girls from all over, who have never met each other or played together, come together and form a team and compete against teams from other regions," explained Patty Soffer, Sasha's mom. " It was very inspiring to learn from college and professional athletes. They were so encouraging and impressive!"
"Our overall experience with the All-American Games was a postive and worthwhile one," Patty Soffer continued. "Sasha is hoping to do it again next year. Other than the extreme heat and frequent rain/lightning delays that interfered with the schedule, we had a great time. Sasha met some really nice girls who she plans to keep in touch with. Her team was eliminated early in the tournament, but she still enjoyed watching other teams, including a different regional team that a girl from her Kraze team was on."
In addition to the Milltown U12 team Soffer plays with, the tween also spent this year playing with the U12 Kraze Blue team, which is a travel softball team from Carteret. The team involved a year-long commitment for Soffer and included 20 tournaments as well as the Northeast Nationals in Connecticut earlier in July.
While Soffer absolutely loves her time on the softball field, she is an all-around athlete, playing basketball for the Joyce Kilmer's school team and the Catholic Youth League. This fall, she may want to try her hand at soccer.
"And on top of all that," her proud mom added. "She is an honor roll student!"
The entire trip out to Florida was an amazing experience for Soffer who loved everything about her visit to the Sunshine State, but especially enjoyed the opportunity to make new friends and meet college and professional softball players.
"Playing in the All-American games was really fun," Soffer said. "It was such an awesome experience meeting and playing with girls from other states. I felt like I was playing with the best of the best and playing on the big fields where the pros play was amazing."
"I even learned different sideline chants that girls in other states taught me and knowing that friends and family back home could watch me was really cool too," Soffer added.