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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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Sharks win state title

Posted on 24 August 2011 by LeslieM

Jordyn Griffith helps the Deerfield Beach Sharks win the state championship. Photo by Gary Curreri

By Gary Curreri

Jordyn Griffith has been playing softball for the past four years and knew this year would be special.

“I thought we would be good this year because we have a lot of good players and we work together as a team,” said Griffith, 10, who helped the Deerfield Beach Sharks 10-Under softball team win the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) ‘A’ state title with 9-2 victory over its arch rivals, the West Pines Diamond Dusters. “We are really good together. We don’t fight.”

Brooke Antonio’s two triples led the way for the Sharks in the title game as the local squad finished the year 73-4 and won 13 of the 15 tournaments they entered.

Griffith and the Sharks spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the country by USSSA. They also finished as the fourth-ranked team in the country.

“It is more pressure, but we play the same way we do and [don’t] let the pressure bother us,” Griffith added. “We rarely even brought it up. We just tried and had fun. I like it because it is fun and you get exercise when you run. It is a fun sport.”

The Sharks opened action in the state tournament, winning the first three contests by a combined 29-0 score. Amy Robbins, Sami Restrepo and Tiffany Saba starred at the plate in victories over St. Pete Fury, West Coast Vipers
and the Sunrise Thunder.

Deerfield Beach followed that up with a 3-2 victory over the Port Orange Blazers before downing Wellington Wild, 8-1, to advance to the championship round against the Diamond Dusters, which needed to defeat the Sharks twice for the title.

West Pines won the first game, 5-0. However, Deer-field Beach prevailed in the second contest, 9-2, to win the state title. Karissa Bauzon also had two hits in the final, while Brandi Antonio allowed just one hit in notching the win on the mound.

Coach Karla Antonio said they are a great bunch of girls.

“They are fun and always entertaining,” Antonio said. “They work very hard, and I can’t say enough about them. The parents are good too, which is very important. The kids are only 10. They have a lot of years ahead of them.”

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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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