SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Diamonds A softball teams competed in the Montville Michelle Fund tournament on the week end of May 9. The Diamonds brought home the hardware. For the first time in the history of the Sparta softball program they swept each age level and the 10A, 12A and 14A teams took home the titles.
While the rainy weather played havoc with the schedule, requiring field changes, up to 10 hours of play and three games in one day, the well-attended tournament allowed for strong competition at each age level. Sparta softball was able to come out on top.
“These girls have been practicing for a while now,” 14A head coach and Diamonds Travel director Joe Jacobs said. “It has paid off with three championships at each age level in the first major tournament of the year. It is something we can be proud of.”
The 10A team went undefeated. That was not the whole story, however. The team did not allow their opponents any hits or runs, outscoring them 21-0.
“They did all the little things it takes to be champions,” head coach Chris Heim said after winning the 1-0 championship game. “We ran the bases well, got big hits and played great defense. All the things we asked them to do and these girls responded in a big way.”
The 10A Diamonds have had a strong start to their season with an undefeated record of 14-0.
The 12A Diamonds, coached by Colleen McCurry, had a wild championship game. It took extra innings for them to defeat the Long Valley Lasers 11-10. The championship game had a bit of everything and the crowd stayed to watch as they played past 9 p.m.
They played all day Sunday and the team called on all facets of their game to pull out the team’s first championship win; strong pitching, clutch hits and defense when they needed it.
“Our girls always come to play,” assistant coach Dave Moore said. “even after a long day they were not going to give up. To win in extra innings only makes it sweeter. It shows them that hard work pays off.”
The 12A girls have a strong 8-4 record so far.
Finally the 14A Diamonds fought hard to get to the final game against local rival Rockaway Rampage. According to their coach, the girls always play with a “refuse to lose” attitude.
They needed it on Sunday. After jumping out to an early lead, the 14A Diamonds had to fight to regain the lead twice over the course of the games against the Rampage.
“This team feeds off big situations and loves to play in big games,” Assistant coach Chris Hannam said. “These girls play for the name on the front of the jersey and not the back. Each girl takes pride in doing whatever it takes to bring a trophy back to Sparta.
The 14A Diamonds are 14-1 in the season, bouncing back from their first loss of the year to earn trophy number 16 as a group.
Sparta Softball president Lori Rispoli said, “Having a big weekend of success like this does a lot for everyone involved, not just the teams that won. It is for the parents, coaches, board members and volunteers who put in their time and make everything possible for our program.”
The 2017 season is in full swing for the Sparta Diamond and recreation softball programs. They Diamonds invite the community to catch a game this spring and summer. Their schedule is available on their web site.