By finishing second overall at the recent New England Babe Ruth Regional Softball Tournament in Barrington, the Londonderry Lightning 8-U softball team became its organization’s first squad at that age level to qualify for the upcoming Babe Ruth World Series in Jensen Beach, Fla.
The local team – head coached by Mike Saucier with assistance from Brian Daniels, Doug Peckham, Brendan Burns, and Dave Merhib – posted a solid 5-3 overall record in winding up the runner-up contingent at the regional tourney.
The Lightning crew was bested in the championship round by the title-winning New Milford, Conn., crew.
“Due to the close time crunch and monies needed to go to the tournament, we have respectfully declined the invitation. But it’s a great achievement nonetheless,” said Burns.
The Londonderry bunch began its involvement in the three-day tournament with some mixed success on Thursday and Friday, July 14 and 15, splitting four contests.
The locals won their first game in an incredibly tight, 1-0 decision over Andy Valley, Maine, but the Lightning then got crushed by the Stamford, Conn. entry by a 10-0 tally in game two of the first day.
The local squad then rebounded magnificently the next day with a 15-2 walloping of the Andy Valley bunch in game one of July 15, but game two of that day went to the opposition with New Milford, Conn. claiming a 7-1 victory.
But the Londonderry contingent then went on an exceptional three-game winning streak to drive itself straight into the championship contest.
The locals dusted off the Andy Valley crew one more time in a 10-0 whitewashing in game one of July 16, and they followed up that superb performance with a nip-and-tuck, 9-8 edging of the Stamford squad to advance to a semifinal-round meeting with the host Barrington contingent.
There in the semis, Saucier’s squad pulled out a 9-5 win to set up a battle with the New Milford mob with all of the proverbial marbles sitting on the table in the title game.
And the Connecticut crew proved that it was not to be messed with on that particular day, bagging a convincing 14-4 victory to stride proudly away with the regional crown in its grasp.
“The offense was impressive, with every player having multiple hit games. And from games three through eight, the entire team only had six strikeouts,” said Burns.
The key to the Londonderry team’s defense was its infield play, with Grace Nutter making a number of impressive throws from third base to Elisabeth Kearney at first. Kearney aided the cause by making numerous outstanding catches.
Pitcher Sarah Daniels and second baseman Addison Browning each gobbled up multiple fly balls, and along with speedy shortstop Shannon Crowley they kept almost every batted ball in the infield. The few softballs that reached the outfield were handled easily by outfielders Regan Burns, Natalie Merhib, Emma Saucier, and Abby Austen.
Stephanie Peckham and Maeve Campbell handled the catching duties incredibly well despite the fact that the locals competed in intense, 90-degree heat throughout and played a total of eight games in just three days.
The Londonderry Lightning 8-U softball crew made some history recently in finishing as the runner-up at the regional Babe Ruth tourney. Shown seated from left are Abigail Austen, Elisabeth Kearney, Addison Browning, Sara Daniels, Grace Nutter, and Regan Burns. Holding the banner from left are Emma Saucier, Shannon Crowley, Natalie Merhib, and Maeve Campbell. And in the back row from left are head coach Mike Saucier and his assistants Brian Daniels, Doug Peckham, Brendan Burns, and Dave Merhib.