SYAA team takes Holland by stormPublished 10:18pm Friday, July 5, 2013
A group of 8-and-under all-star Suffolk softball players showed the power of teamwork can manifest itself even with a newly-formed team, if the players are willing. The SYAA Pinto Firestorm All-stars went 5-0 in a field of six teams to recently win the first event they have entered, the Holland Havoc tournament at the Holland Athletic Complex.
“I think our team has really come together in the past few weeks,” Firestorm head coach Tara Worley said.
And this is a particularly impressive feat whenever a team has only been together for about three weeks, like this one. The Firestorm is a team composed of the best players from three Suffolk Youth Athletic Association teams that played during the spring season. Adjusting to new faces in the dugout and on the field has not been an issue for this group.
“We really got to know each other,” first baseman Amaya Allen said. “We all became best friends.”
She shared that a reality of all-star teams is that not all of the kids will be able to play in their familiar positions.
“It’s kind of a challenge sometimes to teach the kids, ‘You need to learn all the positions so you can be best utilized for the team that you’re on,’” she said.
This concept is especially important since every team that the Firestorm faces is an all-star team, as well.
“They’re all eager to do what is best for the team and they want to win,” Worley said.
The SYAA team started the Holland Havoc pool play on Friday with a 16-6 win over a team from Smithfield. Then, on Saturday, they defeated teams from Little Creek and Gates County with mercy-rule blowouts, holding both squads scoreless.
On Sunday, the Firestorm began single-elimination play by beating a Southern Chesapeake all-star squad in the semifinal after having a first round bye. This set up a re-match with the Smithfield all-star team for the championship. The going proved to be far more difficult this time.
“We led in all the games except for that championship game,” Worley said. “We were down the whole game.”
In the sixth inning, with the Firestorm trailing 5-4, Shelby Knaak hit a triple.
“She was definitely the player of the weekend,” Worley said. “She hit like crazy.”
Faith Martin singled, then Savanna Elms got a hit and Knaak scored the tying run on a fielder’s choice that got Elms out. It was the first out of the final inning.
Martin was on third and would remain there as Hannah Willman and Lilith Griffin loaded up the bases. Smithfield pulled their entire defense up to the infield to prevent the Firestorm from scoring, but Jadyn Patton hit a hard ground ball to the left of the third baseman. The ball made it back home, but the catcher could not come up with it to tag out Martin, who scored the winning run for a final score of 6-5.
For the tournament, Knaak went 11-for-14 with 11 runs batted in, nine runs scored, a double, a triple and two home runs.
Worley praised Andrea Savage for being one of the team’s other big hitters, going 8-for-16 with six RBIs, seven runs, one triple and one homer.
Savage credited the team’s success in hitting and fielding with “good practice and good coaching and good base running.”
Amaya Allen noted her own struggles offensively in the title game, but said, “I think I made up for it at first base, getting the outs.”
She still had impressive offensive weekend statistics, going 7-for-16 with four RBIs and 10 runs.
Regan Worley was 8-for-16 with two runs, Faith Martin was 5-for-16 with two RBIs and eight runs, and Camdyn Stuffel was 8-for-17 with one RBI and five runs.