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Synergy program expands at local YMCA

| Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 9:07 a.m.

Shawn Thompson said he is enthusiastic about the Synergy traveling softball program's recent growth at the Regional Family YMCA in East Huntingdon.

“It is a wonderful program. It gives the teams the opportunity to see how other teams operate and experience competition from other areas,” said Thompson, the facility's program director.

It began as part of the facility's Spirit softball team that plays only locally, Thompson said.

Synergy has been part of the recreational softball program for three years.

It is really taking off this year, Thompson said, with five teams which travel throughout the eastern part of the state, Ohio and West Virginia to compete against other teams.

They have also played teams from as far away as Tennessee, Michigan and Canada. Synergy is made up of a 10U, 12U, two 14U and an 18U college showcase teams.

Young girls ages seven to 18 travel from as far as Kittanning to participate on the team, which practices once a week at the facility along Bessemer Road.

The team then travels on weekends to compete in various tournaments.

The 18U college showcase team competes in tournaments that are attended by several college coaches to assess the players skills.

The events give the players who will be going on to play softball in college the opportunity to be seen and discover what the colleges have to offer.

California University of Pennsylvania head softball Coach Richard Bertagnolli recently directed a clinic for the program.

Bertagnolli commented on how fundamentally sound the players are, according to 14U coach Kevin Beistel of Scottdale.

“He (Bertagnolli) gave us great reviews and made us proud of what we have been doing. Coming from him reassures me that our staff have been working in the right direction,” Beistel said.

Teams practice and compete year-round.

The indoor batting cage allows teams to practice in the YMCA gymnasium during winter months.

Although most of their games are played during the summer months, they compete in at least one indoor winter tournament each year.

Girls interested in the program must tryout for the a spot on the team in their age group. Teams are hand picked by the coaches of each team.

Dan McEwen of North Versailles said his daughter Bryanna, 13, was on a traveling team last year.

However, she joined the Synergy this season for a number of reasons, he said.

“We were impressed with the facility and how it operates. It is nice being with a program that has it's own indoor practice space and field and most importantly, my daughter loves it,” McEwen said.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724—547—5722 or

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