Summer continues for state champion U10 softball team
Published 7:53 pm, Wednesday, August 10, 2016
When the Westport U10 softball team claimed a state championship late last month, coach Lou Alfero and the rest of his staff believed that was the end of an incredible ride. The whole team would regroup and prepare for fall ball later in the year.
All of a sudden, support began to grow for one more challenge. As state champs, the team was invited to participate in Northeast Regional tournament, located three hours west in Dallas, Pennsylvania.
Westport got nine players to agree to make the trip—including a pair of eight year old siblings from players on the roster—and the results have remained the same on the diamond. Racking up three straight wins, Westport advanced to the semifinals and will have a chance to add another banner to a summer that has already brought a district, section and state crowns.
The tournament features a team from nine states, split up into two regions: New England and Atlantic. The top two teams from each advance to the semifinals.
"It's a great experience for the kids," said Alfero. "You don't know if they will ever do this again. The girls are very relaxed and loose; there isn't the tension of when you play Fairfield and Darien. ".The biggest thing for us is that people are shocked we're playing with nine kids."
Representing Connecticut, Westport began the tournament with a 1-0 win over Rhode Island. Picking up where she left off in the state tournament, Morgan Carnahan tossed a complete game shutout as Westport finally broke through in seventh inning as Ava Harvey hit an RBI single.
With pitching limits preventing Carnahan from pitching in consecutive games after the first went to extras, Westport gave the ball to Grace Alfero against Maine. With the score tied 3-3 in the seventh inning, Alfero helped break the game over with a run-scoring triple. Westport would score five runs in the frame and come away with an 8-3 win. Olivia Stubbs had two hits in the win while Carnahan had three. Alfero had 10 strikeouts in the circle and allowed just four hits.
"We finally got our speed going," Alfero said. "We don't hit the ball that hard, besides Grace's triple we didn't really hit the ball. But we were able to get running on the passed balls and wild pitches."
That win sealed Westport's place in the semifinals, which take place Thursday.
Westport finished off pool play Wednesday against Vermont, and came away with a 12-0 win to improve to 3-0 in pool play.
Last season the team won a state championship at the U10 level, but did not participate in regionals. This time around, Westport is closing in on an incredible honor with the minimum required amount of players.
"(If we win), we'd have to build a statue for these kids," Alfero said. "I've watched NY play they have a pitcher who can pitch for 14U, she's that big. "We're playing with house money; I don't think anyone thought nine kids from Westport could be the No. 1 team in New England."