KMC stars hoping Italy trip is just the first of summer
Stars and Stripes July 11, 2012
The two softball teams representing Germany at this week’s European Little League Regionals will be hoping the tournament in Italy will be a stepping stone to their dreams: a berth in the World Series competitions next month.
“Our goal is to go to Portland,” said Sheri Goar, manager of the Kaiserslautern Military Community 11-12 year-old All-Stars, who are playing for a berth in the Little League Softball World Series scheduled for Aug. 9-15 in Oregon.
Mackenzie Freeman, 13, a pitcher-first baseman for the KMC’s 13-14 year-old All-Stars echoed that sentiment. “Our goal is to get there,” she said about the Junior League Softball World Series scheduled for Aug. 12-15 in Kirkland, Wash.
If either team does, it would be the first U.S. military community team to represent Europe in either event since a Ramstein squad made the Little League Softball World Series in 2007. A juniors team from Ramstein last appeared in that age group’s World Series in 2006. The last time a U.S. military community team appeared in any softball World Series was a KMC Senior League team of 15-16 year-olds, which participated in the World Series in Delaware in 2010.
Since then, Europe’s berths in each of the four softball World Series have generally gone to teams from northern Italy, the hotbed of that country’s softball activity where the 2012 European Little League Regionals are to be played — at Caronno Pertusella — from Wednesday to Sunday.
The Italians’ virtual home-field advantage, however, doesn’t daunt the Americans.
“We have sound pitching, a good distance game and a good short game,” said Goar, who’s prepping her 11 players, each of whom has been trained to play at least two positions, to cope with the small-ball style favored by the Europeans.
“The defense is working hard,” Goar said. “Italy [the Milan-area team which won the 2011 regional] last year relied heavily on the short game.”
For his part, Pedro Martinez, coach of the 13-14 Junior Leaguers who’ll be playing their event at the same time and location as the Little Leaguers, also likes his team’s chances.
“We have three experienced pitchers,” he said, “and I expect our offense to score a lot of runs.”
If either all-star team makes the World Series, there’ll be a measure of revenge involved, but that’s of no importance to Corah Price, a pitcher-shortstop-catcher-first baseman for the Little Leaguers, who values the experience more than the outcome.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Price, whose father Christian is the head coach and whose mother Cheryl is an assistant. “It’s not like you get to do something like this every day. It’ll be nice to travel and see how the other teams play.”
Breanna Martinez, a 14-year-old catcher who’ll be a freshman at Ramstein this August, expects her previous experience at Europeans to help in coping with the pressure and heat of the event.
“It’s really hot,” she said, “but we’re kind of used to it.”
European Regional veteran C.C. Farias, a shortstop-pitcher-catcher, also plans to use her appearance in last year’s event to help with this year’s attempt.
“I’m going to be nervous,” the 12-year-old said, “but that’s usual. We just have to play to our best and go to the World Series.”
Little League’s European website, http://www.eteamz.com/llbeurope, posts daily results of all games played. Click on the EMEA Regional Tournaments tab.