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Local slow-pitch softball wins states; places 3rd at regionals

By JAMES A. McCRAY III

Staff writer

Two seasons ago, in 2010, when head coach and founder Sean Ritchie put together the Heavy Hitters co-ed, slow-pitch softball team based out of St. Mary’s County, the team placed ninth overall at the United States Specialty Sports Association Mixed World Tournament.

Last year, the Hitters placed fifth at the same tournament, and after a strong performance in the most recent world tournament, held in Florida Oct. 19-21 and featuring teams from New York, Florida, Georgia, Maine and other east coast states, the Hitters finished third out of 53 teams, continuing to better its final placement.

The third-place finish came on the heels of the third-year team winning the Maryland state tournament victory in early August, in which, it went undefeated at 5-0.

“When we started out this season, we knew we had a good shot at winning states and we went down there and did that.” Ritchie explained.

The state tournament was a rain-shortened tournament, which meant games went from full-count games to one-pitch games. In a one-pitch game, one called strike and a batter is out and one called ball and the batter earns a walk to first base.

Ritchie felt that he and the Hitters had an advantage when it came to the one-pitch format.

“We have a couple of really strong pitchers, so I think that helped us a lot,” Ritchie explained. “Plus, we have played in one-pitch tournaments before, where some other teams probably hadn’t. I think we had the experience playing in that format and that really helped us out.”

The Hitters finished the summer tournament circuit at the Orlando-based world tournament and won six games, and dropping, two for its third-place standing.

“We had a good team going into worlds and everything clicked. We just came up one pitch short here and one hit shorter there,” Ritchie admitted. We were confident but we knew from previous years, it’s anybody’s game. We were pretty confident, but we still knew we had to take it one game at a time and go from there.”

Helping the Hitters earn the best finish at the world tournament the team has ever had was pitching, in particular the pitching duo of Brad Combs and Ryan Brown.

“Most people wouldn’t think in slow-pitch that it makes a huge difference, but if you can pitch to your defense, so to speak, and make hitters hit to one side or another and set up your defense, it does make a big difference,” Ritchie said.

He added, “Between the two of them, if one should not be able to throw a strike, the other would come in and, without missing a beat, shut the other team down.”

Combs was one of three Heavy Hitter players to make the all-tournament team at the world tournament with.

Khourtni Hester and Allison Twarowski also made the all-tournament team but also made the all-tournament team at the Maryland state tournament in August.

“In co-ed, ladies usually make the difference,” Ritchie said. “Usually, the men will cancel each other out and it’s up to the ladies to make up the difference. Defensively, they played very well and at times offensively, they have just been out of sight.”

Brown and teammate Trisha Sagers were named the state tournament most valuable players in addition to Mike Koslofsky, Charles Searight, Andrew Sohn, Hester and Twarowski being named to the all-tournament team.

Ritchie admitted that the team will move up a class next season after competing in Class E this year, but if the final result at the world tournament also goes up, more success is to be found.

jmccray@somdnews.com