Manchester girls’ softballers capture state championship
Chalk up another 2015 Little League state title for Ocean County. The Manchester Girls' 11-U Softball All-Stars claimed the big prize at the championship tournament in Paulsboro, squeezing out an 8-7 win over West Windsor Monday night.
According to Coach Chris Nolan, the realization was instantaneous as soon as the clinching two-out run-scoring single landed in left field in the bottom of the sixth. "It hit them right away. They knew what they did,," Chris said. "There were tears, happy coaches, and proud parents all around" during the ensuing 90 minutes of on-field photos and celebrations.
Congratulations to Adia, Jordan, Naya, Emily, Emma, Kristina, Ava, Alyssa, Charlotte, Mia and Paige, as well as to Manager Rich and Coaches Chris, Mike, and Art.
The All-Stars represent the league's 11 best players, determined by peer voting and coaches' observations. "They play each other all season long, then the 11 or 12 best players for the age group play for about three months," the coach said.
"We try to get as many as we can onto the 10-U, 11-U and 12-U teams. The past couple of years, we've had a core group of eight or nine who are really good. We added some talent, built it around them, and took the state."
The girls endured district and sectional tournaments before reaching the state championship round, where All-Stars from West Windsor, Robbinsville and Paulsboro stood between them and the crown. It involved five days of trekking back and forth to Paulsboro.
"One game didn't start until 10 at night, and didn't finish 'til midnight. They were exhausted and had to be there again the next day," Chris said. They went 4-1 in the four-team double-elimination contests, taking West Windsor in a best-of-three.
Is there a World Series in their future? Coach Chris tells us that it's entirely possible, now that they're reaching the age-12 threshold that takes them beyond the state tournament. A berth in the national championship would take them to Oregon.
Meanwhile, hopefully, there's a big celebration in town!