Bombers ready for national tourney
They have not lost much the last three years, but each rare defeat has made an impact. Each one has made the Central Pennsylvania Bombers better.
During that time, the 14U bombers have suffered less than 10 defeats and have come back strong following each one. They have compiled an impressive list of tournament championships and now are chasing their biggest one yet.
The Bombers are competing in the USSSA World Series beginning Tuesday Viera, Florida. The Bombers qualified last season and are one of 15 teams from seven states competing for the national championship. This is a mature, tough-minded team which has proven it can stand up when knocked down and keep moving forward. That is an asset which could immensely help in Florida.
“If we lose once we won’t lose for a couple more tournaments because we know how it feels after we lose and we don’t get down on ourselves,” Maria Montoya said. “It hurts to know you lost that game so we just get right back up.”
“Our team is good about not drowning in the loss because it kind of humbles us in a way. For a team that wins a lot it’s not a bad thing to lose once in a while,” Alexandra Chilson said. “Everyone has to lose at some point. You’re not going to win every game. We’re really good at picking each other up after that.”
They also have become adept at picking up each other during games and practices. The Bombers, have become an all-for-one, one-for-all group. Every player is talented, but all the girls are equally team-oriented and confidence flows through the roster.
That roster includes: Montoya, Chilson, Hannah Klotz, Kendall McAnelly, Abby Robertson, Natayah Abdul-Hakim, Aubriana Blair, Jocelyn Jean, Abby Mahon, Maddi Bordas, Kimmy Shannon, Cassidy Shay and Nevaeh Montaya. Rick Robertson is the team’s manager and coaches are Bill McAnelly, Jon Jean and Jared Mahon.
Most of this team has played together the last three seasons and strong bonds have been built. No matter who is hitting or pitching and no matter who the ball is hit toward, players believe their teammates will deliver. So often they have, winning between 30-40 games in each of the last two years before opening their 2020 season with a tournament victory a few weeks ago.
“We matured together,” Natayah Abdul-Hakim said. “If we’re in a really tight spot we know who can make the play or this person is going to give their best effort or if this person is up she is going to hit a shot to knock everybody in.”
“Since we’ve been playing together for so long we can be down in a game by 10 runs with two innings left and we know we can get an inning and go with it and score 15 runs in an inning and still get back,” Hannah Klotz said. “We have a lot of faith in each other and we just trust that everyone in our lineup can hit. Everyone in the field can field it and our whole team can do it. We can rely on each other.”
This team also relies on knowing each player is focused on winning. Going to Florida provides some enticing opportunities, but the Bombers are approaching the Series as a business trip. They are there to work and leave with no regrets, knowing they did all they could to capture a championship.
Still, the work is what makes trips like these fun. The Bombers will be competing in some more prestigious tournaments in multiple states later this summer and into the fall so they really do not have a summer vacation. That is perfectly fine with them, too, because there is no other way the Bombers would want to spend their summer.
And there is no one they would rather spend their summers with either.
“When we have games, we play hard and then we can party afterward,” Abdul-Hakim said. “This is a really big opportunity for us. We have really good players on our team and we have a chance at winning something very big.
“We’re so good as a team because we’re always there for each other as a team,” Klotz said. “We’re each other’s best friends in the summer.”