Sharks take bite out of competition

Posted on 30 June 2011 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Shortstop Mia Veliz fields a grounder during a recent practice at Deerfield Beach Middle School. The Sharks are the No.1 one USSSA 10-Under girls softball team in the country. Photo by Gary Curreri

Deerfield Sharks girls softball coach Karla Antonio had a feeling her team would be good, just not this good.

The 10-Under girls team added another tournament title to their growing resumé as they hope to close out the season as the top-ranked USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) team in the country.

The Sharks won the Swamp Classic in Palm Beach Gardens recently to run their overall record to 64-3. The team is still 56-1 in the USSSA, the organization that hosts the World Series. Deerfield Beach has won 13 out of 15 tournaments since October.

Antonio said they started the team in 2009 and were playing out of a local high school before getting “kicked off their field.”

“So, for six months, we were homeless,” said Antonio, who also has an alliance with Nova Southeastern University softball coach Lesa Bonee, one of the team’s coaches. She has also allowed them to use their Davie facility.

“We were just going to different parks or we would play in the grass. We spoke to [Deerfield Beach Parks and Recreation Manager] Blaise Leone and asked, ‘if he could please, please, please let us practice at [Deerfield Beach] Middle School. He caved in last year and gave us a home and ever since, we have been doing really well.”

And how … The Sharks finished last season 45-17 and in the top half of the USSSA, taking 17th out of 34 teams at the Disney Wide World of Sports venue.

“This year, we hope to win it,” said Antonio, who has a couple of 11-year-olds on the team because their birthdates fell inside the eligibility rules. Players need to be born in 2000 or later. “Last year, we were mainly an Under-9 team, so we are a year more experienced.”

Shortstop Mia Veliz said when she started on the team in the beginning, she wasn’t sure how good they would be.

“I definitely did not think we would be this good,” Veliz said. “We got a lot of new girls and we improved in offense and defense and we’ve gotten better as a team.”

One of Antonio’s twin daughters agreed:

“It is awesome that we are No.1,” said Brooke Antonio, who, along with sister Brandi, is one of two of the key players on the squad. “It means we are the best team in the nation. I didn’t know we’d be this good! After a few tournaments and we didn’t lose, I knew we were pretty good. Some of them were tough and some were pretty easy.”

The team will open its quest for the USSSA World Series title when it plays in the USSSA State tournament in Vero Beach from July 8-10.


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