TEWKSBURY – With several tournament wins this summer already in their rear-view mirror, the 16U Show Black Softball team knew what it took to take home a tournament championship even before they took the field last Thursday night at Hazel Field. After all, the team, made up of several area players, including four from Tewksbury, had already played in five summer tournaments, winning two of them, and placing second in two more.
But Thursday night presented a new challenge as they prepared to square off with the 16U Rage squad, based out of Salisbury. This time around they were playing in the championship game of the 16U USA Softball of Massachusetts State Championship Series title game, with the winner taking home the 16U state championship.
If there were any question before the game as to whether this moment might be a little too big for the Show Black squad, they were certainly answered by the game’s end when the Tewksbury led squad, walked off the field as state champions after a 15-8 thumping of the Rage.
Actually, the final score is a little deceiving, as the game was not quite the thumping that the final score would indicate. The Rage had actually taken a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first and maintained that lead heading into the top of the third when Show Black responded with five runs to take a 5-3 lead.
Show Black increased their lead to 8-3 in the fourth inning, but the Rage quickly responded with four runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull within 8-7 heading into the sixth inning. But Show Black would dominate from that point on, picking up one run in the sixth and six more in the seventh to blow the game open and take home the 15-8 victory, banging out 17 hits along with way, while the Rage had ten.
“It was a tight game. They were up, then we were up. It was a really great game,” Show Black coach Mike Bisso, of Tewksbury, said. “With the way they were hitting, it felt really good to put up that six spot in the top of the seventh.”
There were hitting heroes aplenty for the Show Black squad starting with Tewksbury High sophomore Whitney Gigante, who was 3-for-3 on the day, with an RBI and two walks. Gigante, who helped lead the Tewksbury High Softball team to their first league title since 2009 this past season as just a freshman, also pitched Show Black to victory, striking out eight batters over seven innings.
Fellow Tewksbury High stars Alyssa Adams and Tia Smith also contributed to the Show Black victory, while Shawsheen Tech junior Mia Bisso of Tewksbury was 1-for-2 with two RBI and two walks.
In addition to the local players, there were several other offensive stars as well, with Kiley Doolin of Peabody going 3-for-5 with an RBI, while Kennedy Michaud of Auburn, New Hampshire and Pinkerton Academy was 2-for-4 with three and Katie O’Brien of Andover was 1-for-3 with two RBI.
Gabby Bernier of Haverhill was 1-for-5, but her one hit was a three run triple, while Sophie O’Dell of Brighton was 2-for-2 on the night.
“Everybody hit. But that is the type of team they are,” Bisso said. “They hit the cover off the ball.”
This team certainly knows what it is like to play together, as the four Tewksbury residents, Adams, Bisso, Gigante and Smith, have been together since the 10U level, while most of the rest of the team has been together since 12U.
In addition to the Tewksbury players on the team, Bisso was also joined on his coaching staff by assistant coaches Marc Gigante of Tewksbury, and Alyssa Ouellette, who played softball at Tewksbury High in her freshman year, and now pitches at Nichols College.
Bisso says that while his team has experienced plenty of winning together, Thursday night’s win was extra special.
“They have kind of gotten used to winning and used to success, but to win the 16U state championship is definitely special,” Bisso said. “They will forever go down in history as state champions. And most of them are first year 16U kids, so most of the team will be back again next season. They are a tight knit group. They are all best friends. The team has been together so long and gets along so well, and that is part of the reason for their success.”
That success now includes placing in the top two of five of their six tournaments this summer with now three first place finishes and two second place finishes. The group will look to continue their success on the weekend of August 27th-29th when they host 13 other teams at the 4th Annual Lymphoma Invitational, once again at Hazel Field.