SPRINGFIELD, NJ - The Springfield Storm U12 Girls Softball team had a chance to play for a championship as they faced off against a squad from Kenilworth at the Jonathan Dayton High School turf field complex on Thursday July 26.
Playing in a one game winner-takes-all format, the second-seeded Storm struck early, plating two runs in the first and jumping out in front. The eleventh seed Kenilworth added a run in the second to cut the deficit in half, but Springfield responded right back with a run of its own in the bottom of the third to keep it at a two-run lead. Each team would score one run in the fourth inning.
As the game moved toward its conclusion, both offenses kicked into high gear. In the fifth inning, Springfield and Kenilworth each scored two runs. Kenilworth would add another two runs in the top of the sixth inning to knot the score at 6-6. It would remain there until extra innings.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with a runner already on second per international tiebreaker rules, Springfield was able to bring her around to score. That would prove to be the winning run. As she crossed home plate, the spectators in the stands cheered and the players hugged and celebrated.
After the game, Storm Head Coach Bill Buckley said that he was proud of the way his team improved this season, and that he saw them get better in many key aspects as each game was played.
“This team has come so far from our first game,” Buckley said. “About midway through the season, the girls started putting it all together, fielding, hitting, great pitching, very efficient and a lot of hustle, so I couldn’t be prouder.”
Buckley also noted that while he was nervous as the game went into extra innings, his team was cool, calm and collected, and kept their wits about them. He also praised Pitcher Catty DeCiantis for playing a full eight innings on the mound and for not wilting under the pressure of the moment.
For DeCiantis, whatever nerves she had at the start of the game were soothed by knowing she had her teammates out on the field with her.
“I was really nervous, but I knew that I had my team behind me,” she said. “And no matter how I did, they would pick me up and help me out along the way.”
DeCiantis also said that she wasn’t surprised by the outcome, because she knew her team would be able to get the winning run across the plate.
“I wasn’t shocked because my team is phenomenal, and we work hard with everything we do,” DeCiantis said. “And I knew my teammates would hit the ball and score because that’s how we played all season and that’s how we planned to play today.”
Reflecting back on the season, DeCiantis’ main takeaway was that the teamwork she and her fellow Storm players showed helped to bind them together throughout the final stretch of games.
“Right at the beginning of the season, I felt like we were already a strong team and I think [the] last game that we played was really a different game, because we worked so hard and we wanted it so bad. So that’s why we were here and that’s why we were able to win today,” she said.