The defending 9/10-year-old softball state champions will have a chance to defend their title.
On Tuesday, the Warwick West Side all-star captured its fourth straight District 3 title with a 10-0 mercy-rule shortened, four-inning victory over Westerly National in the championship game.
Last’s year champions are now going back to the state’s biggest stage, where they’ll try to repeat as the best in Rhode Island.
“The goal from the first practice we had is to be state champions,” said manager Kevin Burr. “We are state champions and we are going to defend that title.”
West Side will open up state tournament play Saturday against the District 4 champion at 2 p.m. at Elmwood’s JT Owens Field.
Win or lose, it will play another game Sunday.
In the meantime, West Side can celebrate another summer on top of District 3.
West Side won three games in the tournament, easily blowing by Westerly National in its opener last Monday and then cruising past Narragansett in the winner’s bracket final.
That set up a re-match with Westerly, which defeated Narragansett in the loser’s bracket final, but Westerly was no match for a West Side team that didn’t allow a single run all tournament long.
“These girls come out, they do everything that we ask them,” Burr said. “They’re probably the most coachable girls that I’ve been a part of. You ask them, they do it. It’s great.”
West Side pitcher Kelsey Burr allowed just two hits over four innings of work while walking two. She struck out 10 batters, accounting for all but two of the outs made in the game.
It was a dominant performance, something has been the norm for Burr throughout the tournament.
“We work with her,” Kevin Burr said. “The coaches work with her. She’s one of those gamers. She’s got that ‘you can’t-teach’ attitude. She’s there and she wants to win. There’s no second place for her.”
West Side’s offense held up its end of the bargain as well. The team scored five runs in the first inning and five more in the third to bring the 10-run rule into play.
In the first, Maddy D’Amato had an RBI single and Kelsey Burr followed that with a two-run double. Later in the frame, Maddy Narcavage forced in a run with a bases loaded walk and Jenna Altieri brought home the fifth run with a ground ball to right field on which she was thrown out at first.
“Good production all the way through the lineup,” Kevin Burr said.
After stranding a pair of runners in the second, West Side broke the game open in the third. Kidd was hit by a pitch and, two batters later, Ryleigh Ruddock walked. A fielder’s choice on a ball hit by Sophia McCann – in which no out was recorded – made the score 6-0 and a wild pitch brought home the seventh run.
Bryanna Rastella was hit with a pitch and Ameila Murphy and D’Amato each drew bases-loaded walks to make it 9-0. Kelsey Burr capped the scoring with an RBI single.
“These girls worked hard,” Kevin Burr said. “They earned it. Great group. We have unbelievable support from my coaches and unbelievable support from West Side in general.”
Westerly’s best chance at pushing a run across came in the third inning, when Tiffony Brophy drew a walk with one out and Gabby Brennan singled. With runners at first and third, Brennan took off on a steal for second and West Side’s catcher, D’Amato, stood up and threw the ball to Rastella, who was charging into the grass from shortstop. The trick worked, as Brophy took home for home and Rastella fired a strike back to D’Amato to record the out at the plate.
“They want to carry on that tradition,” Burr said. “A lot of them are younger siblings, they watched their older sisters win it. They want to be a part of it so they can win it.”
When the game ended, there was very little celebration, as West Side unquestionably has its eyes on a larger goal.
It wants another state title.
“Districts is great, it really is,” Burr said. “But the bigger goal, the bigger picture, is states.”