The Rhode Island Thunder Gold 12U-Needle are the 2014 PONY National Champions after the team won the PONY Fast Pitch Softball Nationals in Sterling, Va., held the week of July 18-23.
The team, composed of players from both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, had a phenomenal run throughout the season, with had a phenomenal run this season, with an overall record of 71-4-1.
At the tournament they faced the best teams on the East Coast, including teams from Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
They had a rough start, taking a 5-0 loss in their first pool play game against Wagner’s Allender (Maryland), the team they would later face in the championship game.
But the Thunder bounced back strong, reeling off 10 straight wins to beat every other team they faced. They finished the tournament with a 10-1 record, and outscored their opponents by an average of 8 runs.
Their performance in the championship game was an impressive team effort of hot bats, rock solid defense, and outstanding pitching by Kelsey Majkut.
Prior to their win at PONY Nationals, the Thunder also won the Massachusetts ASA State Championship, and the PONY New England Regional Championship, thus securing the coveted ‘triple crown’ in girl’s fastpitch softball.
In a post championship interview, head coach Bryan Needle credited the win to his team, who he said are tremendously hard workers and outstanding athletes who love the game. He plans to continue to work hard with his team to improve, and come back for another title next season.
The team was recognized by the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday, where they were introduced on the field prior to the National Anthem.
The Rhode Island Thunder Gold is a fastpitch travel organization that rosters several teams from 10U-18U, with players from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut. They travel to compete in the best tournaments in New England and across the country. The organization, directed by Dave Lotti, aims to prepare players to perform and exceed at the collegiate level both athletically and academically.
Thunder Gold Roster:
#1 Shaylen Amaral, S Dartmouth, MA
#2 Liana Antonelli, Harrisville, RI
#4 Lexi Silva, Raynham, MA
#5 Alyssa Richard, Warwick, RI
#7 Kelsey Majkut, Seekonk, MA
#11 Abbie Roderick, Woonsocket, RI
#13 Ashley Polito, Abington, MA
#20 Corin Mahan, Abington, MA
#24 Jordyn Needle, Abington, MA
#26 Lauren Keleher, Abington, MA
#27 Kayla Baptista, N. Scituate, RI
#37 Lily O' Neil, Abington, MA
#99 Casey Strobel, Abington, MA
Head Coach: Bryan Needle
Assistant Coaches: Kevin O’Neil, Anthony Antonelli, Tom Mahan
Executive Asst. Coach: Manny Moitoso
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