The Verona 12U Softball Barnstormers took home the second place trophy in the 12U National Division of the West Milford XTreme Heat Tournament, held June 7 and 8 in Hewitt, N.J.
The Verona 12U team, led by their tireless pitcher Annie Johnson and RBI machine Nicole Imbriano, were seeded #2 to begin the Sunday single-elimination round. They bested High Point 11-4 and Roxbury 7-3 in the earlier Sunday quarter- and semi-finals.
In the 4:30 p.m. championship game against the #1 seed Tri-State Angels, the first-year 12U Barnstormers were hot and tired in the shadeless confines of San Cap Field, their sixth game in two days. Four Verona players were hit by pitches from the Angel’s tiring ace pitcher, but the bruised Barnstormers battled their way back to a 5-5 tie in the 5th inning on a crucial two RBI hit from Olivia Hasel.
Verona was held scoreless in the top of the 6th. The staunch Verona defense pulled the field in tight, but two solid hits put Tri-State runners at third and second base, when their next hitter nudged a slow rolling grounder to first baseman Ashley Baumgard, who fired it home to catcher Carlie Goldstein, putting the tag on the sliding Angel. From the cloud of dust and chalk, the umpire’s call went in favor of Tri-State.
Throughout the tournament, stellar cheer-inspiring defensive plays from the rock-solid infield of Jordan “Jordo” Stafford at third, Brooke Anquillare at shortstop and Jessie “Lightning” Loudon at second base, and the gazelle-like speed in the outfielders of Gillian O’Donnell and Jenna Romano, anchored by the velcro-gloved and cannon-armed centerfielder Jenna Da Rin, continued to impress Head Coach Tim Stafford who commented, “Ours is a true first year 12U team that went up against older, more experienced teams in this tournament in each game. Our players proved that hard work, dedication and perseverance pay off. These young ladies are a pleasure to work with and the coaches and I are very proud of them.”
The Spring travel softball season will conclude with the Verona VBSL hosting their annual School’s Out Summer Slam June 20 to 22. The main games will be played at Everett Field, with others at F.N. Brown. The Verona 10U and 8U travel teams are also participating, as are teams from other towns.