Harrison City Heat 12U squad has successful summer
The Harrison City Heat 12U softball team spent the summer out of its league.
Instead of playing in tournaments with community teams, the Heat sought out some of the top tournaments around.
The team recently wrapped its season up with a ninth-place finish in the USSSA “Open” World Series in Salisbury, Md. The tournament featured many AAU-level teams. Two of the area's top travel teams also played in the tournaments: Nitro Fastpitch finished fourth, and Team Pennsylvania Cyclones took seventh. Those teams feature players from multiple school districts.
“(The Heat) is a special group made up of all P-T girls,” coach Denny Little said. “We have trained with many of the girls since they were 8 years old. They start playing fast pitch.”
The team went 5-3 in the tournament.
The team scored the most runs in a single game (19), were fourth in runs per game (8.2) and were the only community team to place in the top 40.
“People say they hate to play us because we hit the snot out of the ball,” Little said. “Since we have been together so long, we can do a lot. We run at a high school level.”
In softball there are three distinct levels to play: A, B and C. The C level is made up of community teams, and B is made up of teams with 75 percent of its roster from the community. The A level features some of the best travel teams.
The Heat started with 12 girls in the 8-and-under age group. The team lost players to other sports and even other teams, but the core stuck together.
“Seven of the 10 girls have been playing for us since they were 7,” Little said. “We had a few girls come and go. But the nucleus had stayed around.”
The Heat finished 34-15-1. The Heat finished ranked as the No. 1 Western Pennsylvania B-classified team by the USSSA. The team ranked in the top four percent of the 2,250 B teams in the country.
Members of the team included Samantha Shickel, Emma Little, Allie Prady, Brooke Cleland, Bailey Perrin, Carly Kubacka, Morgan Hilty, Jess Lichota, Lizzie Horvat, Jordan Nabuda and Julia Moorhead. The team was coached by Little, Lee Shickle, Mike Cleland and Michelle Hilty.
Little said Penn-Trafford's varsity coach Monica Cox also had a part in the team's development.
For now, the team will go its separate ways. Some will return to the Heat while others have reached the age cutoff. But the hope is the team will meet up again once the players hit high school.
“They have a bright future,” Little said. “They have accomplished everything we imagined as a coaching staff. They have stuck together. Hopefully they will come back and play for Penn-Trafford.
“If they continue to strive to be the best, they should continue to improve. Nothing is guaranteed, but I think they will have a good future.”