In the first ever Needham/Dedham Softball Team collaboration, Needham FastPitch helped the Dedham Girls Softball League (DGSL) to field a 12 and under team at the 2011 Summer Blast Fast Pitch Tournament hosted by the Dartmouth Girls Athletic League in Dartmouth.
Last Saturday and Sunday, the combined Needham/Dedham girls faced some of the best 12 and under fast pitch teams in the state as well as Rhode Island. Three of Needham’s top U12 girls were invited to play with DGSL team. The collaboration yielded a lean squad of 10 players (a mere one more than needed to populate the field)—three from Needham and seven from Dedham—who went to Dartmouth as strangers, but who came back as great friends.
With less than a half dozen pre-tournament practices, the Needham/Dedham group had to face a series of tough well seasoned tournament teams including top seeded teams: Berkley, Swansea (who ended up championing the tournament) and the Cape Cod Riptide (which is an all star team from Cape Cod). The team didn’t seed well the first day, but they returned to Dartmouth Sunday morning and made it to the quarter finals, only falling to the top-seeded Chelmsford Blue Crush by a mere 2 points.
Though tournament champions Swansea beat Needham/Dedham Saturday, it was by one of the narrowest victories Swansea would post all weekend.
The team entered the hunt for the championship in earnest Sunday morning with a commanding win against another all star team (the Atlantic Mariners) out of Rhode Island. With that win, Needham/Dedham went to the quarter finals to face the top-seeded Chelmsford team.
“Although we out scored Chelmsford for the last five of the seven innings, we ultimately came up just short,” Dedham coach Stephen Boudette said. “Chelmsford had a tremendous first inning where they scored 5 runs. But we answered back, scoring 5 of our own in late innings, coming within 2 at the final.”
The final score was Chelmsford 7, NDGSL 5.
In the end, this ragtag team of 12-year-old strangers who were brought together by a couple of coaches from Dedham and Needham who simply wanted to provide an opportunity for a few girls to enjoy the experience of tournament softball, became a team of focus, determination and fierce friendship that will go beyond the softball diamond.
Undaunted, the team is shooting to play in another tournament before the 2011 tournament season ends.