Local ball teams travel away

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

On Tuesday afternoon, the Virginia Jawbreakers 16U softball team and the Suffolk Warriors 11U baseball team were only a few dozen yards apart n they shared the practice field of King's Fork Middle School. By this morning, however, the distance had increased quite a bit.

While the girls prepare for their trip to Roanoke for the Commonwealth Games this weekend, the boys flew down to Orlando for the 11U AAU championships. The girls will battle fellow ladies from across Virginia and Tennessee; the boys will face 80 squads from all over the country and Puerto Rico.

Two years ago, the Jawbreakers took third in the tourney; last year, they got seventh. This time around, it's time to stop the downward spiral. About a month ago, they got some outside help; the team merged with the nearby Sports Plus team.

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"It's been better than I expected," said Maddi Ridenour, a former Sportster. "We've come together real good. It seems like there's a lot of trust built up."

After just a few weeks on the team, fellow new acquisition Autumn Compton is already the captain.

"It's going to be intimidating," she said of the tournament. "I've never gone anywhere where I've played teams like this before."

The Commonwealth will be the team's third tournament this season.

"I think we've come a long way, considering the way that we came together," said pitcher Maurissa Slocum. "We've used the things we learned in practice."

The baseball team qualified to head to Disney World by finishing second in the Patriot Day tournament last fall in Virginia Beach. Last May, they won the Super 16 tournament, and took second in the 12U Firecracker Open last week (both tournaments were held in Newport News).

"I want to win the whole thing," said Mason Barringer, 10. "If we hit the ball and play good defense, we can do it."

Over the past few weeks, Blake Eure's been researching his opponents on the Internet.

"I look at their records, and I think it's going to be hard," he said, "but I think we can still beat them."