The 2019 season is one the members of the Lake Shore 12U Lightning softball team will remember for a long time.
The Lightning steadily progressed over the last three seasons since the team’s inception in the fall of 2010, and they stood out prominently among softball teams in Maryland and beyond this summer. Lake Shore won 47 games and compiled a 47-23 overall record playing against top competition from all over the Northeast.
The team of Aliceanna Weibley, Mara Gilkey, Rose Mozloom, Leah Miller, Lilly Bergeron, Alyssa Simms, Riley Price, Lilly Tinker, Samantha Waters, Taylor Barchanowicz and Ava Cicchetti achieved multiple distinctions as one of the state’s top 12U softball teams. The squad played in a whopping 12 tournaments, finishing in the top three in nine out of the 12.
In June, the Lightning played in the United States Specialty Sports Association B State Championships at Bachmann Park and finished as runners-up, falling 7-6 in extra innings to Bayside Breeze of Easton. Lake Shore went 4-2 in the tournament.
In July, the team traveled to Connecticut for the USSSA Northeast Nationals, where they played well and recorded a handful of thrilling come-from-behind victories. After going 2-1 in pool play and dropping their first bracket game in the double-elimination tournament, the team rallied for a 3-0 day on the second day of the tournament. The three wins included a 5-4 walk-off victory over the New Jersey Mystics, a 13-3 win over the New Jersey Madness and another walk-off win in a 4-3 victory over the Connecticut Fusion.
Still facing elimination the following day, the Lightning were all but buried in their next bracket game when they trailed the Pennsylvania Xtreme 9-3 with two outs in the final inning. Amazingly, Lake Shore rallied for six runs, getting clutch hits by Simms, Cicchetti, Price, Waters, Gilkey, Barchanowicz, Tinker, Miller and Mozloom to tie the game at 9-9. In extra innings, the team walked it off once again, getting an RBI double by Simms to win, 11-10.
Lake Shore won its next game 12-1 over the Pennsylvania Blue Thunder before finally falling 5-4 the New Jersey Ruthless in their sixth game in 24 hours.
For the tournament the team went 7-3 and finished seventh out of 44 teams.
“The girls represented Maryland and Pasadena like the champions they are,” said head coach Jimmy Simms, who coached the Lightning with assistant coaches Carl Cicchetti, Brian Price and Tom Waters.
With their excellent overall record and strong tournament performances, the 12U Lightning finished the season with the No. 1 ranking in the state in the USSSA’s points-ranking system for 12U teams.
Coach Simms said the girls’ resiliency and never-say-die attitude was a defining feature for them; 10 of the Lightning’s 47 wins were secured in clutch, final-inning or extra-inning moments.
“I am most proud of the group because the girls refused to quit on one another,” Simms said. “They share a genuine love for one another, they believe in one another, and it showed with how they play the game. It’s a testament to their character and to their commitment to one another to never quit and to play for your teammates.”
The team formed two years ago as a 10U fall ball rec team and has steadily improved, advancing up the available levels of competition. The team won only 10 games in its first year playing mostly USSSA C tournaments, followed by 22 wins as 11U’s playing in mostly B-level tournaments and 47 wins this season playing B and A tournaments, a trajectory that has yielded “a lifetime of memories and friendships,” said coach Simms.
Simms also noted the Lightning’s all-around character and work ethic outside of softball. All 11 members of the team are honor roll students, and five are principal’s honor roll students. Lake Shore’s 12U Lightning players also participated in multiple volunteer efforts this season, including Challenger Baseball games for physically challenged athletes at Lake Waterford Park and the Autism Awareness Bike Camp at Old Mill High School, where the Lightning helped teach bike-riding skills to children with autism.
“It’s an amazing group of young ladies representing what is best in Pasadena for sure,” said coach Simms.