Suffolk girls shine on team of Stars

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 9, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

During their years as Bennett’s Creek (BC) little league stars, Anna Cain and Stephanie Tarafas were in familiar territory. Surrounded by the family and friends, the two girls made it to All-Star competition last season in the BC 9-10 softball league, helping their squad make it as high as second in the state.

But when the pair decided to head a few miles north to play for the Peninsula Stars 10U team out of Hampton back in February, they were strangers in a strange land. Now forced to wear the unfamiliar combo of blue and red (rather than the safety of red, white, and yellow that BC provided), Anna and Stephanie did their best to get acquainted with their new backdrop.

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For Anna, it took a mere night. &uot;I went to a sleepover and met everyone on the team,&uot; she said of her new teammates, made up of girls from York, Newport News, Southampton, Smithfield, and, or course, Hampton. &uot;It was easy to get along with them.&uot;

The John Yeates Middle School sixth-graders helped their team qualify for Pony League National competition by winning the Seaside Sensational in Virginia Beach in May, then took first place at the USSA NIT in Hopewell.

Third place finishes at the National Softball Association (NSA) state championships and the Mid Atlantic Championships in Laurel, Md. (the second tournament included a victory over previously unbeaten Lake Shore Lightning, which had finished first in the NSA) prepared the Stars for the national games, held in Sterling.

In their opening National game, the girls battled the Ohio Classics, the three-time defending state champions. Anna headed to the mound, and hurled her way through five and a half solid innings.

By the time she came out in the sixth, the team had a comfortable 6-3 lead, and the coaches wanted to give pitching ace Johanna Carter of Franklin a shot on the mound to warm her up for game two.

The strategy worked, as Johanna quieted the Classics for the victory. Their next opponent, however, was the North Jersey Rocks, who had not allowed a run (or even a single runner!) in two previous games. Undaunted, the Stars won 3-2. When all was said, done, and scored, the team had finished with a record of 2-2, landing them at ninth place in the country.

&uot;We were kind of disappointed, because we could have done better,&uot; said Stephanie, who led the team with 43 stolen bases. Her fielding percentage was .859 – second only to Anna’s .908. Anna also led the Stars with 12 doubles and 31 RBIs.