Great finale to Smasher summer

Published 3:51 pm Monday, July 25, 2011

The Suffolk Smashers, a Pinto league (8-and-under) all-star softball team from Suffolk Youth Athletic Association, won the 2011 East Zone Fastpitch Softball championship at Southern Chesapeake Athletic Association on Sunday, July 16. It was the second tournament championship of the summer for the Smashers.

The Suffolk Smashers completed a summer of softball to remember with five games and a lot more fun aside from the ballgames last week in the PONY 8U Softball National Tournament in Round Rock, Texas.

Having clinched their tournament trip to Texas, but apparently not looking ahead too much to it, the Smashers added another trophy and a beautiful banner to their outstanding season before departing for nationals.

The Smashers, an all-star team formed from the Pinto league (coach-pitch, 8-and-under) teams in Suffolk Youth Athletic Association, won the 2011 East Zone Tournament title.

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The Suffolk Smashers are Toni Jones, Sydney Hawk, Sevanna Cahoon, Reese Byrd, Karley Wetmore, Julie Jones, Jillian McAdoo, Jessica Chang, Hanna Williamson, Hailey Rountree, Gabby Infranco, Emmi Goodman and Dailey Ellis.

Suffolk lost early in the tournament but made their way to the final, where they beat host squad Southern Chesapeake Athletic Association 10-1 on Sunday, July 16.

The PONY zone championship was the second tournament crown of the summer for the Smashers, who went 18-3 overall in four tourneys around the region.

One day after the championship in Chesapeake, the Smashers flew to Texas. On the field, with the Smashers as one of 20 teams in the Pinto tournament, the trip was every bit a national championship test on the field as Suffolk lost four games and tied one in their five contests.

“We had home runs and good fielding plays, but against the best team, you’ve got to be perfect to do well,” parent and SYAA coach, although not a Smasher coach, David Goodman Jr. said.

The Smashers scored a healthy number of runs in each game, Goodman said. In previous tournaments, though, the Smasher defense had set them apart.

In coach-pitch games, hits and runs are typically easy to come by since every batter gets perfect pitches to swing away at.

Holding Southern Chesapeake to one run in a championship game and allowing six runs in five victories in their first tourney title, in a PONY National Qualifier Tournament in Deep Creek, shows the Smasher defensive play.

On and off the softball field, the Smashers certainly turned the trip into a vacation. The Texan hosts helped, Goodman said.

“The folks there were just as generous and as hospitable as they could be,” he said.

As the first Virginia Pinto division team to ever make the trip to Texas for the national championships, the Smashers had the honor of throwing out the first pitch, actually two Smasher players tossing a pitch each, at the opening ceremony parade of 184 teams across all age groups there for the week.

The Smashers saw professional softball doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday evenings. The pros from the Akron Racers and NPF Diamonds signed autographs and took pictures with the younger players.

“The girls were very excited about all of that. Those games on their own were worth the price of admission,” Goodman said.

The players and parents had time to take sightseeing trips to Austin and San Antonio.

While it was plenty hot and humid in Suffolk last week, central Texas was another step up the thermometer.

“It was very hard to play games in that heat. There’s nothing like what it is in Texas. There was no escaping it,” Goodman said.

Wesley Jones is head coach of the Suffolk Smashers. The assistants are Allen Wetmore, Jimmy Byrd and Steve McAdoo. Quite importantly, Wetmore is the Smasher pitcher (pitching to the Smasher hitters).

The memories from the trip and the tournament made for a dream way to finish the season, which really won’t stop for long since fall ball is around the corner.

“Having these good times, and then having the teamwork this team’s built in the last couple months, it’s really bonded these girls very closely,” Goodman said.