STAFFORD - The Stafford Stingrays’ 12U fast-pitch travel softball squad got its first taste of tournament ball last weekend, when the team finished fifth out of eight teams in the Fall Eye of the Storm event in Howell, N.J.

During the tournament, the team picked up its first victory of the fall season, beating the New Jersey Cheetahs, 9-4, on Saturday, the team’s third game of the day. 

“It was nice to get that proverbial monkey off our backs,” said Stingray manager Joe D’Amodio, who is assisted by Scott Sattan, Mari Lou D’Amodio and Christina D'Amodio. “The kids have been working hard. We are a young team and raw. We need a lot of work, but we are here to develop the players.”

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Ellie Meola picked up the win, twirling a two-hitter, while striking out nine. Key hits were provided by Hannah Theuret (triple, double, 3 RBI), Olivia Bruno, Kaedon Lipkowski, Victoria Marconi, Kayla Riley, Madeline Chieco and Caitlynn Gould.

Strong defensive play was turned in by Lily Beck, Alexa Seubert and Bruno in the outfield. Riley also looked strong on the mound in her start. Emily Evans, who is injured, cheered on her teammates the entire tournament.

“We are getting better each time out,” said D’Amodio. “The girls are learning, but we have a long way to go. Most importantly, the girls are bonding and having fun.”

Earlier in the day, the team had tied with the Hamilton Hurricanes (4-4), before dropping an 8-6 decision to the N.J. Ninjas.

The Stingrays returned to Howell Sunday when they got eliminated in the quarters, 13-3, by the N.J. Rage.

“The Rage was a seasoned team and I told the girls that’s what one looks like,” said D’Amodio. “They didn’t make any mistakes in the field and they pitched well. We will get there, but it will take time and plenty of patience. We have to keep moving forward and working.”