Monday morning marked the beginning of the 2007 NSA Class A girls Fastpitch World Series. But that doesn't mean that teams are coming in cold.
The Hoosier Havoc, a 16-and-under team from Boonville, Indiana, had won 10 in a row heading into Monday's inaugural game.
Make that 11 in a row.
Kasey Duncan, a southpaw, pitched a one-hit shutout against the MSA Maniacs. Naturally for Duncan, the game was enjoyable.
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"It was important that we started off this tournament with a win," said Duncan, who also had two hits.
Duncan said the team has played against top-notch competition throughout the season. The Havoc won the Kentucky NSA state title and played in two college exposure tournaments, as well as two other first-place finishes this season.
"If we play like I know we can, we can win (it all)," Duncan said.
Greg Miller, who has been keeping stats for the team the past four years, said this year's team is the best hitting team he has been part of.
"We have always been known for our defense," Miller said. "This year is different."
Miller added the team isn't prone to overconfidence.
"They know that they can lose on any given day," he said.
• ANOTHER SMOKER : The 16-and-under Michigan Generals played nine games last week and won them all.
This is the team's first year together. The players were formerly on various traveling teams.
"These girls are self focused," head coach Tony McCarty, when asked how he will keep his team ready. "They gotta bring it at this point, because every team is good."
• A NO-NO: Haley Reinfeld threw a no-hitter in the Coral Springs Panthers' opening game against the Lady Bandits of Pennsylvania. For the Panthers, this is their first year in the 14-and-under division, but the core of the team has been together six years.
"This is a very close knit team," said assistant coach and father of Haley, Stu Reinfeld. "The kids don't get on each other on the field as much. They encourage."
The Panthers have bucked conventional wisdom this season, seeking to play the toughest teams rather than ensuring easy victories.
"We care about developing the players rather than winning," head coach Bill Ruffolo said. "We want to get the kids as good as they can be for college. Of course, we play to win, but development comes first."
Reinfeld says the team strength is pitching and defense. The team has been battling injuries all year, but they have overcome that through hard work.
"We compliment them as much as we chew them out," Ruffolo said. "They play hard, and they practice hard."
• 15 PUNCHOUTS: Morgan Spivey was lights out for the Indiana Invaders, pitching a complete game and holding the Hudson Heat Fire to one run. She also managed to rack up a season-high 15 strikeouts and led her team to a 4-1 victory.
"When she's on, she is unstoppable," head coach Jason Young said.
Young said his team struggled with the bat and overall execution.
"We have to get better at playing small ball and cutting down on the errors," he said.
• SOFTBALL YOUTH: Amidst the frenzy of teams attempting to propel themselves in the tournament standings was a burgeoning business operation. Sara Hacker recently released the first magazine issue of Softball Youth.
Softball Youth is a spin-off of Baseball Youth, a magazine that Sara's brother, Scott, founded in 2005. Softball Youth contains articles about health, beauty, hairstyles, instructional softball advice and games. The magazine is aimed at children ages 7 to 13.
"This is not your everyday softball magazine," Sara said. "We added some of the girlie elements to it."
This summer, in addition to her stop in Rock Hill on Monday, Sara has been touring in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia to promote her magazine and Baseball Youth.
Sara hopes to capitalize on the success Baseball Youth is having. Baseball Youth is sponsored by the Disney Channel, MLB, and the Backyard Sport video game, among others.
She said that the biggest obstacle has been the lack of staffing.
"We are trying to make this company grow," she said. "So it takes hard work and dedication because we are so short staffed."