Sharks bite competition, win World Series title

Posted on 20 September 2012 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

The Deerfield Beach Sharks 11-Under girls softball team can call itself the World Champions after going through the United States Specialty Sports Association’s (USSSA) World Series undefeated Walt Disney’s Wide World of Sports recently.

Taylor Cochrane scored the lone run in the second inning and Brandi Antonio and Cochrane then shut the door with outstanding pitching by scattering seven hits as the Sharks blanked the Texas Hustle, 1-0, in the championship game.

The Sharks, who were limited to six hits in the championship game, managed to score their run after Cochrane reached on an error, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring on an Alexa Ares hit to centerfield. It was the second victory in as many tries against the Hustle, which was the highest scoring team in the tournament. The Sharks won an elimination game against the team from the Lone Star state, 9-1, two games earlier.

“Our girls really showed what they were made of at the World Series,” said Sharks manager Karla Antonio. “They really pulled together as a team. Our hitting was great in some of the games; yet, in others, we needed our defense and pitching to step up in order to win.”

The Sharks rattled off six consecutive wins before facing off in the semifinal game against their interstate rival and defending World Series Champions, the Orlando Aftershock.

The Sharks had played Orlando six times previously since 2010 and had lost all six games by narrow margins. In the pivotal game of the tournament, Brandi Antonio held the Aftershock to no earned runs for five innings. Jordyn Griffith came in as a relief pitcher and sealed the deal against the Aftershock. Brooke Antonio and Chelsea Brown also turned in key defensive plays in the 2-1 win.

Nova Southeastern University women’s softball coach, Lesa Bonee, has been working with the USSSA team since 2009, and her coaching role has significantly expanded since. She works consistently to improve the girls’ hitting and makes time to give weekly private lessons to many of the athletes. Since working with Bonee, the team as a whole has shown great improvement in their overall performance and attitude.

Antonio said Bonee “makes things fun.” Bonee has had the NSU softball team serve as role models to the young players. The college players have helped provide softball instruction to the Sharks, as well as participated in fun, team-building activities such as tie-dying T-Shirts, pumpkin carving and even having a pie throwing contest at coach Bonee’s expense.

“Coach Dawn Boothe (former Head Coach at Deerfield Beach High School) worked with the team’s defense this season and really turned things around for us,” said manager Antonio. “Ryan Rogge (former Western Kentucky University pitching star) worked with our pitchers.”

“Their hard work throughout the year in all aspects of the game is what gave them the edge in the championship,” manager Antonio added. “I am extremely proud of this group of girls. They had a goal of winning the World Series this year and they made it happen!”

The World Series MVPs for the Sharks were Taylor Cochrane and Brandi Antonio (pitching), while Sami Restrepo was the Tournament MVP.

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