YORK -- The Chester County Stars are easy to pick out this week during the 2007 NSA Class A Girls Fastpitch World Series.
They wear navy or Carolina Blue uniforms with stars down the sides from the armpits of their jerseys to the bottom of their shorts. The uniforms have a bigger star on the left chest with Chester County Stars written across it.
And they will be wearing navy wrist bands with 88 in Carolina Blue to honor Meghan Trashy, who is back home in Pennsylvania.
A cancerous tumor was discovered last winter and Trashy underwent successful brain surgery. She dressed with her high school team -- is one of its best players -- this spring and batted once all season.
"Meghan's not here and this is our way of thinking of her,'' Stars head coach Chuck Coker said. "The surgery was successful and we hope to have here back playing for us next year. We hate that she couldn't make it down with us.''
The 16-and-under Stars are an all-star team drawing its 16 players from nine different high schools in Chester County.
Catcher Maria Dispenziere attends Owen J. Roberts High School and will be a senior. Several colleges have offered her a scholarship, but Dispenziere said it's too early to make a decision.
She wants to major in English, be a writer, and play softball at a higher level.
But this week, she's concentrating on helping her team win a World Series title.
"All but one of us play high school softball, but that's because she'll start high school this year," Dispenziere said. "With us being from so many schools, we are rivals. But it's fun to play against people in high school that you play travel ball with.
"I can't think of one time any of us got mad or upset playing against each other. We're all good players and it's very competitive. But we're also close and good friends.''
Coker said the Stars organization fields two teams in each age division -- 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18-and-under. The other 16-and-under team is playing this week in the Pony Nationals in Ohio.
"Most of the girls on this team have been together for six years,'' Coker said. "Last year we combined two teams to make this one, but we still have another 16-and-under team.
"We play in Pony, NSA and USSSA tournaments. We actually qualified to come here by winning a Pony tournament last fall, and we like to play up because it helps us get better. We played in two 18-and-under tournaments this year. We won one and were fifth in another that had 64 teams.''
The Stars ensured their stay in York County on Tuesday with a 6-3 win over the Oly Fire from Illinois. Chester County broke open a scoreless game with five runs in the bottom of the third, held on and got the six-inning victory when the one hour and 30-minute time limit ran out.
Another day. Another win against a good team. That's how the Stars like it.
"I love playing with this team because it's so competitive no matter where we play,'' first baseman Katie Sload said. "The good thing about this team is that we get along on and off the field, even when we play high school games.
"I go to Downingtown East. I play softball and play the clarinet in our school's marching band. I want to play college softball, just like all of the players on our team. I'm hoping to get a scholarship and want to be a physical therapist.''
The Stars are serious on the field and are fundamentally sound. They have good pitching, make the hard plays, hit well and run the bases well. That's because, as Dispenziere says, all the players are good.
The organization has tryouts, but most of the girls come back and move up to the next age division when the time comes.
But they are not always regimented. Dispenziere said one of the fun things the players do is play tricks on each other. They did it Tuesday before their game against the Fire, and Coker sat smiling as Dispenziere told what happened.
"Sometimes we hide each other's gloves,'' she said. "Today we did it to Ashlee Skyles. She was running all over the place looking for it before we warmed up.
"One of our players, Kerri Conrad, was sitting on it. We finally gave it to her. I don't think she would have ever found it.''
Most of the players live within 30 miles of Hershey, Pa., home of the Hersheypark, called the "Sweetest Place on Earth.'' The players have sampled the chocolates and enjoyed the rides. They were looking forward to another treat Tuesday afternoon.
"We're going to Carowinds and I can't wait,'' Sload said. "I'm so excited.''
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