Two All-Star softball teams from BYSA had very similar summers this year: winning a district championship, a state championship, and earning a 3rd place finish in the Babe Ruth World Series. The 8U and 10U teams played in different parts of the state, from Madeira Beach to Lake City to Jensen Beach to bring those titles home to our local community.
The 8U team, led by manager Paul Oderio, had 4 players return from last year's 8U team that advanced to the state tournament. Catcher Gabby Langston, shortstop Betty Oderio, second baseman Peyton Benjamin, and All-Tournament player during the World Series, Casey Ayres, were those returning players that helped lead this year's team offensively and defensively most of the summer. This year's team was deep in talent as Tori Rudolph, a newcomer to BYSA, and Riley Fox provided additional big bats all summer long.
Each All-Star season is beneficial for kids to learn and be starters in positions they might not have played before. This year, Eva Marante and Luci Jordan benefited from these opportunities at third base and in the outfield, respectively. A long summer can't happen with only 9 players, as all 12 players are needed to contribute for a team to have a long run. Diana Anda came back from an early summer injury to contribute at states and in the World Series. The 3 seven year-olds on this team who got valuable experience for the future were Lexi Watts, Camaryn Holloway, and Camille Montney.
"This team had a lot of hard workers, some gamers, and kids that gave a lot of effort all summer long," said manager Paul Oderio. "It's been a great experience to be a part of and thank the support from BYSA along the way."
The 10U team, led by manager Larry Knowles, was made up of many players who have been together for awhile. Six of them were on the 8U team that played in the state and regional tournaments in 2015. Leanne Allen and Cami VanGalder were the top 2 pitchers that helped shut the door on a lot of opposing teams this summer. The big bats of Emily Knowles, Paige Sanchez, Kimora Okimosh (a newcomer to BYSA), and Leah Pabon helped lead this team to big victories this summer . . . in addition to 2 thrilling comebacks at the World Series. This team played with big hearts at times, and that showed with Haylee Baker, Riley Porter, and Jensen Warbritton playing key roles at the plate and in the field. Emma Velasco, Ava Velasco, and Carly Rivera provided much needed depth and gained valuable experience from this team's long run this summer.
"I think I enjoyed this whole thing as much as, if not more than, they did. It truly was an honor to coach these girls and have their parents there to support us fully. I have the best coaches ever, it made it seem easy," said Larry Knowles. "Best experience yet... more to come, I can only hope."
BYSA thanks all of the players, coaches, and parents tremendously for their efforts and commitment to the league this summer. Our organization can only hope there are more experiences like this for these families and others in the future.
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