Young baseball, softball squads shine on national stage
The Hingham-based South Shore Sea Dogs 14U baseball team and the Abington Avalanche 10U girls’ softball team had a summer to remember on the regional and national stages.
In compiling a 28-5-1 record, the Sea Dogs won both the New England AAU Super Division title and the Cooperstown Baseball World Gold Medal.
The Avalanche were perfect (45-0) en route to the ASA Eastern National Championship in York, Pa.
The reward for their success includes an invitation to the State House tomorrow as guests of Senator John F. Keenan and Representative Geoff Diehl for a tour and lunch.
The Avalanche will also be special guests of the Can-Am League’s Brockton Rox Saturday, as well as the
Coached by John Ferrara of Easton, who played baseball at Brockton High and Wesleyan University, the Sea Dogs took the Cooperstown title against other AAU and regional All-Star travel teams in dramatic fashion.
Trailing 5-2 in the sixth inning of the championship game against the Virginia Renegades, the Sea Dogs tied the game when Norwell’s Mason Johnson, down to his final strike, bounded a single up the middle to score Braintree’s Nick Valicenti.
The game, played July 21, went into extra innings and in the eighth, with one out, Valicenti singled to left. Cohasset’s Charlie Blackington replaced Valicenti as a pinch runner and scored the winning run on a walk-off triple down the right field line by Nick Chapman of Easton.
David Hutchins of Norwell, who allowed no runs and just two hits in relief, picked up the win.
The Sea Dogs, who were silver medalists at Cooperstown as 12-year-olds and gold medalists a year ago, weren’t finished winning big games.
Despite being the lowest seed in the six-team single elimination New England AAU Tournament, the Seadogs qualified by winning a pair of one-run games in round robin play.
They then outscored their opponents, 32-9 in the quarterfinals and semifinals, prior to their trip to Cooperstown.
The Sea Dogs took on the Woburn Stampede on Aug. 9 in the title game at Mattakeesett Field in Pembroke, and won, 14-5. A.J. Ferrara of Easton secured the win in relief, Norwell’s Tommy Larason went 5 for 5 with three runs scored and two batted in, while Weymouth’s Matt Cunningham, Hutchins and Chapman each had two hits.
Their teammates with area ties included Steve Cochrane of Hingham, Chris DeGiacomo of Norwell and Johnny Rorke of Norton.
“This team seemed to play better when they were behind, and reminded me of the 2004 Red Sox because of the trust they had in one another,’’ said Ferrara, who was assisted by Rorke and Tom Larason of Norwell. “That makes for a very special product on the field, and sometimes I found it hard to believe they were 14-year-old kids.’’
“We call ourselves ‘Gentlemen Warriors,’ combining a respect and passion for the game and everyone involved together with a tenacious competitiveness between the lines and focus on fundamental execution,’’ added Ferrara. “Their mantra to each other is, ‘We Got Your Back.’ ’’
The Sea Dogs are part of the 11-team South Shore Baseball Club based at the South Shore Sports Center in Hingham. The organization’s president is Frank Niles, the former Weymouth South High coach, who took over the program in 1990.
Tryouts for next year’s 15U team are scheduled for consecutive Sundays - Sept. 11, Sept. 18, Sept. 25, and Oct. 2. For information visit the program’s website at www.ssbc.com.
The Avalanche, coached by Bryan Needle and assistants Darren Young, Dave McDonough, and Tom Mahan, all of Abington, were the first team in the 23-year history of Abington Girls Softball to clinch the Junior Olympics State ASA title, going undefeated against the best teams in the state.
Their unblemished ride continued at the ASA New England Regional championship which punched their ticket to the Eastern Nationals the last week of July. That trip culminated in a 7-3 championship game win over Miss Shen of Clifton Park, N.Y.
The Avalanche also won four local ASA tournaments and the South Shore Summer League North Division 1 title.
The players making that historic run possible were Alissa Sayers, Madison Hockney, Maggie Becker, Kaleigh MacDonald, Tori Young, Jordyn Needle, Lily O’Neil, Corin Mahan, Lauren Keleher, Caitlin Murphy, Jenna McDonough, Katie Nelligan, and Lauren Nelligan.
“This team has unbelievable talent, and they love the game, and this band of 13 girls will play softball rain or shine. They have a competitive edge and refuse to lose,’’ said Needle. “Aristotle’s proverb ‘the sum of the whole is greater than its parts’ is the core of this team. There is synergy when this group of girls takes to the field. They are softball sisters who support each other and love competition.
“We practice, practice, and practice, and are always working on ways to make the team stronger and faster. The keys are great pitching, incredible fielding, superior base running and most of all a group of girls who are willing to give up their summer for the game of softball.’’
Plans for a banner commemorating the 2011 perfect season are underway. It will be displayed at the Carey Field complex where the Avalanche play their home games.