ELLENVILLE – There's nothing like summer sports when it's community-based, beyond the scope of our schools. Think local softball leagues, soccer in some areas, runners, roller derby, and the old leisure time once spent tossing horseshoes.
Or for this week in particular, how about turning one's attention to the great season Ellenville Senior Girls' Softball has had as it now prepares to send its team to Rockland County for the New York State Championships.
Senior Girls is a "Little League" team, meaning it operates in the upper tier of the national baseball outfit on the softball side. "This is the best team I've coached so far. We have seven girls who also played for Ellenville High's varsity team," said Coach Chris Lutz this week. "This is their last game in Little League, as many are going to be too old to play again, but they know each other so well, they've grown up with each other and played softball together for years. We had a great season — went 10 and 2 — and we beat some really good competition up here in the Hudson Valley. We beat Poughkeepsie, we beat Kingston and Rondout Valley, and they're always tough. This is a really great achievement."
And it will be even tougher in Rockland County, partly because of the way things are organized for the championships. For instance, current champions Rockland County are really an All Star team drawn from eight club teams. And most of the top-level competitors will be "district teams" of that nature.
"Friday, 2 p.m., is our next game, actually," Lutz added. "We pulled a bye in the first round, which is Thursday."
The game will be at the Little League field located at 74 Gurnee Avenue in Haverstraw.
"We probably will be playing East Shore, Long Island," Lutz added, incorporating the doubt that always arises during championship rounds of play.
Asked what has taken this team so far, Coach Lutz responded, "Defense is our strongest point. The girls know the situations, they know how to cover bunts. Our outfield is regarded as the best many coaches have seen at the little league level."
And when the bat is in their hands?
"We're very fast. A lot of bunting, a lot of stealing," he answered. "I tell the girls we're playing 'small ball.' We get someone on base and we move them over."
Lutz noted the strong support everyone's gotten from the families of all the girls, and also from the community in Ellenville.
"Little League in Ellenville really stepped it up for us this year. They provided all the water and Gatorade. And we have to mention Angela Burburan, she's the principal officer in the local Little League and has been behind us all the way," he said. "Also have to say, the village manager Joe Stoeckeler has been perfect with us. For instance, we play on the Berme Road field, the big field, not the Little League field and he's been great for us. Also, we should mention Noreen Dechon, and Mike Jeter of the Ellenville Street Department. They've all been great, even to when we needed keys to turn on the lights so we could play at night."
This encouragement even extended over to the varsity ball club. "Scott Little over there was very encouraging," Lutz said. "The school ball even changed their practice schedule to accommodate us and we had seven varsity players on this team."
In regular local Little League play, an additional congrats goes out to the Oriole's girls softball team who a few weeks back won the Rondout Valley Softball Majors Championship in a landslide 15-1 victory against the Braves, making that the 10th consecutive Rondout Valley Softball Majors Championship win for Coach Teddy Decker.
Also, Ellenville Little League's banner season included the success of the 9/10 boys, who won the District 16 Championship and went on to the sectionals in Albany, but lost there to the District 13 Champions. And Indian Valley, based in Kerhonkson, captured the District 16 11-12 Little League boys All-Star baseball championship with a 9-2 victory over Rondout Valley. Congrats to all!
And good luck Ellenville girls this weekend!