The Warwick West Side softball all-stars realized quickly that they could compete with the best at the 9/10 Eastern Regional in Old Forge, Pa. They still believe it, but they didn’t get a chance to prove it at the highest level.
After going 2-1 in pool play, West Side matched up with New Jersey state champ East Windsor PAL Little League in the Eastern Region semifinals on Tuesday and lost 12-3 due in large part to one tough inning.
New Jersey moved into the championship game opposite Connecticut. Rhode Island got to take the field one more time for a consolation game on Wednesday, with results unavailable at press time, but the semifinal loss ended West Side’s quest for the ultimate prize.
“It’s been a great run, but I think the disappointment is that we’re pretty much even with these teams,” said manager Carlos Rodas. “I don’t think there’s an elite team here. We could compete with everybody, but we feel like we shot ourselves in the foot. We had one bad inning.”
West Side went 2-0 in its first two games before a 9-3 loss to Connecticut in its pool-play final. Still, the team was feeling good as it headed into the semifinals, and it showed. West Side fell behind but kept things close. Alyssa Richard did her part in the pitcher’s duel, and it was a 3-1 game going into the fifth inning.
Then it unraveled. A string of errors paved the way for New Jersey to blow the game wide open with nine runs.
“Defensively, we’ve been solid across the board,” Rodas said. “What happens at this level is you can always run into that one inning. It just snowballs. One error turns into four and all of a sudden, it’s a different game.”
West Side had a similar experience in its only other loss of the summer, which came to Cranston National Budlong in the state tournament.
To its credit, West Side battled back this time, scoring two runs in its next half-inning and threatening for more. The deficit was just too big, though, and New Jersey held on.
“We told the girls to keep fighting and they did,” Rodas said. “They fought to the last out. We left with our heads held high.”
West Side was scheduled to face New York on Wednesday afternoon, with hopes of grabbing a third-place trophy bring home.
Regardless, it’s been quite a ride.
“This is something they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives,” Rodas said. “To represent Warwick and the state out here has been great. I feel like we represented the state well on and off the field. I think, down the road, we’re going to look back and it’s going to be even more awe-inspiring than it is now.”
And with several years of Little League softball ahead of the all-stars, the experience of playing at the regional level will be invaluable.
“I think this can only help them bounce to the next level as softball players,” Rodas said. “You always wonder in your league if you’re good enough to make all-stars. Then on all-stars, you wonder if you’re good enough to compete against the best teams in the state. Getting to the regionals means you can play with anybody, and that’s huge for these girls to know that. I think it’s great as a team and also for them as individuals. They’re going to come back with more confidence. The sky’s the limit for them in softball.”