By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Girls Little League Softball City Series once again provided a back-to-back champion as the Pride won it for the second consecutive season.
On Thursday, June 16, the Pride defeated the Avalanche 11-7 in another nip-and-tuck affair to take the title.
The series produced several top-notched performances including clutch hitting in the championship game and a couple one-hit gems from the mound.
Off that great tournament, it’s time for the postseason awards to go out.
And this year, the Bristol Observer has co-MVPs for the 2016 Bristol Girls Little League Softball City Series Tournament.
Here’s the list as 10 girls made this year’s Bristol Observer All-Tourney team, starting with the MVPs of 2016:
Co-MVP: Olivia Darby, Pride, pitcher (Two-time Bristol Observer MVP): Let’s give her some credit because Darby had to work her way back from injury right as the City Series commenced, going a perfect 3-0 on the mound in impressive fashion…In three games, she tallied 16 strikes, just 10 walks – none during the 15-1 win over the Nitro – and threw all but one inning for her squad…The change-up specialist, most importantly, generated critical ground ball outs, letting the defense behind her, such as Zoe Lowe at short-stop and Leah Chipman at second base, make all the plays…And with all the innings she threw, spacing out 22 hits over three games, especially against the aggressive Avalanche in two games, was a solid tally…Offensively, she did pretty well at the plate by batting 6-of-9 (.667), with five RBI and six runs scored)…An easy choice for Co-MVP this year.
“She’s just a competitor,” said Coach Darrell Darby of his daughter and star pitcher. “I think any future coach in soccer, basketball, or softball, is going to love coaching this kid.”
Co-MVP: Grace D’Amato, Pride, catcher (Two-time All-tourney team member): Proved to be a valuable all-around commodity and that defense – and leadership – is always needed behind the plate…Offensively for the Pride, when her squad was facing a daunting deficit against the Avalanche, “Motts” came through with a double and a blazing triple – good for four RBI – as she helped flip a 6-2 hole into an 11-7 triumph in the end for the Pride. And those two extra-base hits were the loudest during tournament play…Batted .300 overall with a tournament best nine RBI, a couple runs scored and even a stolen base or two…Her dad (Bristol Eastern gym teacher Chris D’Amato) was nicknamed “The Glove” for his outstanding play in baseball and it will be her turn in a few years to bring the same outstanding play for the Lancers softball program (please, don’t move).
“Grace carried the team on her back the last couple weeks,” said Darby of D’Amato. “When that ball went flying [against the Avalanche in the clinching victory], I was so happy for that kid.”
And here’s the rest of the Bristol Observer BGLLS City Series squad in no particular order:
Janessa Bartell, Avalanche, shortstop: Was sharp on defense for the runners up and at the plate, Bartell proved thats she’s certainly a slick hitter…Generated eight total hits in tourney and went 4-for-4 in her final contest against the Pride…Had an important double and scored a run in the near miss against the Pride during the first loss (13-8).
“Janessa actually played for the Pride last year, ironically,” said Avalanche coach Bob Sirois. “All season long, I could pretty well rely on her with regard to anything she would do whether it was playing shortstop, at the plate bunting or swinging away, or base running. She’s the fastest girl on our team. And she’s reliable. Ninety-nine percent of the time, if the ball is in her area, she’s either going to grab it, catch it, something’s going to happen and she’s usually going to make the play.”
Zoe Lowe, Pride, shortstop (Two-time All-tourney team member): Watch out for this kid…She already has all the skills and if the ball is hit her way, it’s a quick out at first base…Slick fielding and just as crafty at the plate during City Series play…Overall, batted a neat .500 clip (6-of-12) that included three RBI, a few stolen bases and, like Bartell, is an excellent leadoff hitter who knows what to do with two strikes on the board…Darby loves the positivity she brings to every game.
Ashlynn Brunet, Avalanche, catcher (Two-time All-tourney team member): Another leader behind the plate, she always has her head in the game and certainly is a defensive stopper…Brunet always seems to generate something during her plate appearances and tallied an impressive eight hits over City Series play…She went a blazing 3-of-4 with two doubles and an RBI the first time against the Pride while blasting the Blast for a 2-for-3 performance that included two runs scored and four RBI in the squad’s 10-0 victory to make it to the championship round.
Alex Sciarretto, Avalanche, pitcher: This youngster is the real deal on the mound – zipping up a tournament best 35 strikeouts and one-hitting the Blast to end their tournament run…Over her final three games, she allowed just 19 hits and gave her offense numerous chances to steal a couple games from the Pride…Sciarretto nabbed 11 strikeouts to open tourney play and then struck out 10 batters against the Pride in the championship finale…She’s going to be a force to recon with over the next couple City Series showdowns.
Amber Champagne, Nitro, second base: Anytime you can generate a little offense against the Pride, it’s a big deal…The second basemen did exactly that when she dropped a slick single down the line in left to notch a run against the defending champs in the first contest of the City Series…Another future talent in the city of Bristol.
Leah Chipman, Pride, second base (Two-time All-tourney team member): Defensively sound, helping turn a game-ending double play against the Avalanche the first time around and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time…Offensively, Chipman is a strong hitter at the No. 2 slot in the batting order, going 4-for-8 (.500) in City Series play with three walks, a couple stolen bases and five runs to her name…Was 2-for-2 against the Avalanche the first time out and scored three critical runs in the Pride’s small-ball alignment.
Kayla St. Onge, Avalanche, first base: Another hitting stud for the Avalanche – tallying nine hits overall in tournament play in 2016…Over her final three games, went an impressive 7-of-11 (.636) with six RBI, three scored runs and two extra-base hits…Overall, tallied two doubles and a triple…Tallied a hit in four out of her last five at-bats in City Series play.
Sophia Bouchard, Pride, first base: Played well on both sides of the ball as the first basemen made several significant gains at the plate…Batted 4-for-9 (.444), scored six runs and generated three RBI…The speedster swiped several bases and in her first game of action against the Nitro, Bouchard went 2-of-3 with two runs scored, stole a base and nabbed an RBI,
Ryley Plourde, Blast, Pitcher: Had to face the Avalanche twice and that’s no easy ticket…Did well against the squad the second time around, allowing just seven hits while striking three in the tough 10-0 loss.
Past Bristol Girls Little League Softball City Series Champions
1996 Blue Jays
1999 Blue Jays