Volume 74, Number 51 | April 27 - May 03 , 2005

Sport

G.V.L.L. pitcher Raeann McKenna with first baseman Kasey McKenna, at right, playing softball against the Harlem Lions.

Despite Lions and drizzle, the G.V.L.L. girls dazzle

By Judith Stiles

With most softball players there would have been “no joy in Mudville” under dark clouds and drizzle after the top of the first inning, when Greenwich Village Little League’s Girls Seniors B team was down by 11 runs. Their opponents, the Harlem Lions, seemed to effortlessly pile on the runs. However, the Village girls seemed unfazed by the weather and the score as they merrily took their turn at bat. The Downtown team was realistic and was not expecting to win this game, knowing their opponents were older, larger and more experienced. Looking the size of grown women, the 15-to-16-year-old Harlem Lions towered over G.V.L.L.’s 11- and 12-year-olds, who had just come up from recreational softball last year, making a giant leap up to Seniors B Division.

In the bottom of the first, G.V.L.L.’s Karly Spillane hit a rope to left field to send home Kasey McKenna to score the first run for G.V.L.L. Then at 5 ft. 6 in. and only 10 years old, Ashanti Plummer patiently waited for a good pitch and hit a double, sending Karly home to score the second run. When the inning was over, with a score of 11-2, Manager Brian McKenna kept spirits high when he said, “Tough inning, but don’t worry about it, just get out there and play ball.”

The girls took their cue from the manager and trotted to the outfield, some of them happily skipping to their positions, as they donned their gloves. From the sidelines, 80-year-old grandmother Emily Sarno, cheered at random moments for G.V.L.L. and her granddaughter, Maria Sarno, hoping to give the girls a boost. “I wish I could help the coach. These girls need little tips on things like, you know, sliding,” she enthusiastically blurted out.

In the top of the second inning, Shaba Self of the Harlem Lions hit a whopper home run to center field at Chelsea Waterside Park, except the homer was downgraded to a double, because a league rule states that if the ball rolls under the bleachers, the runner can only take two bases. Third baseman Karly Spillane caught a pop fly for the first out. Pitcher Raeanne McKenna scooped up a grounder and made a perfect throw to her cousin, first baseman Kasey Mc Kenna, for the second out, and then went on to strike out a Harlem Lioness to retire the side, but only after the score had crept up to 16-2.

The highlight of the fourth inning occurred when shortstop Korrine Torres of G.V.L.L. was up at bat and hit a grounder toward second base, only to beat the throw to first. Speedy Torres bet that she could steal second, which she did in a flash, and then in a bold move, took off for third and made it.

Finally, in the fifth inning, G.V.L.L. came into their own and played picture-perfect ball, with Liz Peet pitching, as her waist length ponytail enhanced the drama of the windup. Speedy Torres, now playing second base, made a perfect throw to first baseman McKenna for the first out, only to repeat it again for the second out. Raeanne McKenna, now shortstop, made a bull’s-eye throw to her first baseman-cousin to end the inning, one, two, three. The G.V.L.L. crowd went wild and more McKennas, including Raeanne’s mother, father and cousin Brian, applauded the girls for doing so well.

What a manager says to a team in the meeting after a losing game is very important. Does he chew them out? Does he criticize individuals in front of the group? Does he give them hope even though they got hammered? Manager McKenna focused on the positive, although the game ended with the Harlem Lions beating G.V.L.L. 18-4.

“You can hold your heads up high, that was a great 1, 2, 3, inning,” McKenna said, as the girls listened attentively. “Remember, when you play a team that’s better than you, you’ll get better,” he added, punctuating his speech with how important it is for them to get to practice. Liz McKenna, Kasey’s mom, joined the huddle and praised their effort, encouraging them to practice after school since many of them attend Our Lady of Pompeii elementary school.

“Get to practice and your team will improve,” she said.

Less than 18 hours later, the players showed up at Chelsea Waterside for practice, bright and early Sunday morning. Since Manager McKenna is the youngest of five brothers, it is likely that a few more nieces and nephews straggled in for practice and a pickup game, and of course some more “joy in McKennaville.”


Minors Brewers vs. Marlins

In another game that was not close but still a lot of fun, the Brewers defeated the Marlins 11-1 in Greenwich Village Little League Minors Division play. Kyle Barall had two hits and scored two runs for the Brewers as well as contributing some fine pitching and defensive play on the mound. James Bambury and Will Lounsbery-Scaife each drove in a pair of runs to lead a balanced Brewer attack. Eric Blohm stroked two hits for the Marlins, while Jafar Ashshaheed’s bases-loaded single drove in their lone run.

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