The Londonderry Lightning 8-U softball team hit the heights early this season, winning the title for its age level in the Babe Ruth World Series qualifier at the Londonderry Athletic Field Association complex over Memorial Day weekend and, in doing so, qualifying for the 8-U World Series in Florida this summer.
The 11-member Londonderry squad lost all three of its games in pool play on the first day of the tourney, but then rebounded magnificently to defeat its two opponents on day two to bag the crown.
In doing the fine work it did on its home fields, coach Mike Saucier’s young contingent qualified for the nationals in Jensen Beach, Florida in August.
The Lightning organization also had its 12-U team finish third at the Memorial Day tourney and its 10-U contingent end up fourth.
“With 22 teams participating, this was a great showing for the local ladies,” said LAFA executive director in charge of softball Brendan Burns.
The tourney-winning Lightning team included players Caileigh Aguiar, Vivien Belanger, Adison Browning,Regan Burns, Riley Campo, Shannon Crowley, Lilly Dunne, Makenzie Daneau, Emily Flynn, Elisabeth Kearney, and Emma Saucier.
In the pool play on day one, the 8-U crew lost its match-ups with Salem, the Capital Area team from Concord, and the squad from Barrington.
“We had a chance to win every game but came up short,” lamented Saucier. “Our girls were a bit nervous and feeling their way through their first real games of the season throughout the day, but you could see their confidence growing.”
Then, on day two, with a big rebound required for the local softball side, the Lightning started raining on other teams’ parade hopes.
“We played Barrington in the first game. They were the number one seed, and we beat them 7-3 in a really well-played game by both teams,” said coach Saucier. “In the finals, we played second seed Concord and beat them 6-3 in another great softball game. All 11 of our girls played with confidence and contributed both on offense and on defense.”
The Lightning coach found plenty to be happy with within his entire group’s efforts.
“One team highlight for me was the fact that for this tournament, it was optional for teams to start nine players and keep reserves on the bench, or to have the full roster in the lineup and play everyone. Of the four teams on championship Sunday, we were the only team that chose to have everyone in the lineup. We were stronger (players) one through 11 and we loved that we could have great success with everyone playing a role.”
Saucier was assisted by Lisa Burns, Tara Crowley, Joe Dunne, and Catherine Kearney.