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Stewart Manor Players Lead Charge As New Hyde Park All-Stars Advance To Little League World Series

NHP All-Stars to face international competition in Oregon

They make it look easy. Indeed, the New Hyde Park All-Stars, comprised of seventh and eighth-grade girls from Stewart Manor and New Hyde Park, clinched the East Region Little League Championship on July 27, wrapping up a tournament run that included four shutouts by the All-Stars.

The team became the state champs on July 16, defeating Half Hollow Hills 10-2. Asked whether he was confident the team would win the state championship, coach Tom Donnelly replied, “We lost in the semifinals at the N.Y. State tournament last year as 11-year-olds playing in the 12-year-old division and we won the N.Y. State tournament as 10-years-olds, so we were confident but we knew Staten Island and Half Hollow Hills would be very tough games.”

From there, the team headed to Bristol, Connecticut, to represent New York State in the regional competition. The All-Stars played four games during pool play, beating Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania and narrowly losing to New Jersey in a 1-0 defeat. They went on to shut out Massachusetts and Connecticut during single-elimination playoffs and clinched the regional title in a 4-1 victory over New Jersey.

The team’s success can be attributed to many factors. Pitchers Jenny Hickey and Melissa Ward allowed only one earned run in seven games. Donnelly also credits “team speed” and the overall athleticism of the girls, who play multiple sports.

Asked what she attributes the team’s success to, Stewart Manor resident Katie Tubridy, who is the team’s youngest player, shared her thoughts. “We have a great combination of pitchers and fielders and hitters, and we are so good together because we get along really well.”

To be sure, practice is a key ingredient. “We practice most of the year,” Donnelly said. “In the winter, we use an indoor gym and the local indoor batting cage. In the spring and fall, we play in the NJBL travel league on the weekends plus our Little League schedule, four games per week average in the spring and two in the fall. We practice once a week during the spring and fall seasons since we play so many games. During the Williamsport tournament, which starts in mid-June and goes until the World Series, we are usually together at least 6 days a week.”

As the team prepares to leave for Portland, Ore., to compete in the Little League World Series, the All-Stars will follow the same training regimen. “We prepare the same for all teams,” Donnelly said.

“We have a very dedicated coaching staff, who [has] put a lot of time in with these girls over the last six years,” Donnelly added. “Tom Grimshaw, Tom Fitzpatrick, Ray Ward and myself are typically all at practice doing something different to keep the girls busy … so we have very little standing around time during our practices. We also have a very smart team with almost the entire team on honor roll at their schools.”

The 2012 roster includes Hannah Arkin, Maggie Donnelly, Kayla Fitzpatrick, Anne Grimshaw, Jenny Hickey, Sophia Jacoby, Nicole Kuzler, Gabby Morales, Emma Nidermaier, Katie Tubridy and Melissa Ward.

The All-Stars head to Portland on August 7 and will face Asia-Pacific in their first World Series game on August 9. A complete schedule of games can be found at: www.softballworldseries.com/schedule1.htm. The semifinals, which are scheduled for August 14 and 15, will be aired live on ESPN2. All other games can be viewed in real time via webcast. The cost for watching the whole tournament is $25, or you can watch for $10 per day. Visit www.softball worldseries.com/webcast.htm for additional information.

Are the girls “fired up,” as their team cheer asks? You bet.

“It’s a good feeling, amazing to think that we’re going to the World Series,” Tubridy said. “I’m really excited to go.”