first_imgThe Sayreville Stars Softball Association’s 12-and-under girls’ fast pitch traveling team opened its double elimination competition at the 2000 PONY National Tournament of Champions in Sterling, Va., last week hoping to build on past success. Under founder, President and Coach Leo Kirchner, the Stars tested their mettle against the country’s finest travel teams, and Kirchner was looking forward to seeing how his girls perform throughout the tournament. “All these teams are champions, and it’s interesting to see how our program stacks up against them,” said Kirchner, who, along with co-coach Mark Funk, has led the team to a 40-11-1 record this year. “What we’ve accomplished, we’ve done with pitching and defense. We’ve recorded 24 shutouts, which speaks very highly of those aspects of our game.” The Sayreville team, which is also made up of girls from Aberdeen and Old Bridge, went 2-1 in their preliminary play to earn a top seed in their A bracket. In the first contest, the club defeated the Long Island Bandits by a 3-1 score, with Mallory Kirchner taking the win, and key hits by catcher-third baseman Tricia Allutto of Matawan-Aberdeen and outfielder-pitcher Lauren Gelmetti of Westfield. Then the Stars conquered the Swansea (Mass.) Maddogs, 1-0, on great pitching by Jackie Funk of Clark, excellent defense and a little good luck: Marianne Marinella, the pitcher-first baseman from Matawan-Aberdeen, scored the lone run on consecutive passed balls. Although Sayreville fell 1-0 to the Prince William Comets July 24, the Stars were already guaranteed a first-seed. They earned their berth in the nationals by hosting a 12-team PONY National Qualifying tourney over Father’s Day weekend at the new Middlesex County Raritan Bay Waterfront Park in Sayreville. Among the Stars’ other accomplishments, the team placed first in the NJSASA Kickoff Classic and Mid Summer Fun tourney, and finished third out of 14 teams in the NSA State Tournament, as well as second in the ASA State Tournament. Rounding out the rest of the roster are second baseman-outfielder Kaitlin Calo-gera of Old Bridge; outfielder Martha Frazier of Weehawken; Jessica Nicola of Sayreville, who plays catcher, outfield and second base; shortstop-catcher Jilliam Ortega of Matawan-Aberdeen; and outfielder Nicole Riggio from Old Bridge. —Richard Jeromelast_img

Local All-Star team competes in PONY national tournament

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