LEWISBURG — Central PA Havoc 06 16U head coach/manager Joe Devine says there’s nothing that his softball team can’t do.
That apparently includes winning back-to-back national championships.
The Havoc went a perfect 9-0 to claim the USSSA 16U/A Open Eastern National Championship, held July 25-30 at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex in Salisbury, Md.
Last year the team won the USSSA 14U B title.
“The girls continue to rise to new levels. We keep pushing them and entering them in tournaments that are bigger and tougher. And they answered the call every time,” said Devine, whose team beat CT Bombers Black 7-2 to win the championship on Saturday.
“We played in the A Division even though the girls are a B team, and they just about ran the table during the season to go 41-1-1. I don’t know what their limit is, and that’s pretty cool to see as a coach.”
The squad features Lewisburg Area High School rising junior Sydney Bolinsky, along with players from Bloomsburg (Maddy Devine), Loyalsock (Katie Ryder), Midd-West (Storm Wilt and Rachel Keister), Montoursville (Kayleigh Sheleman), Selinsgrove (Kiersten Dupert), Shikellamy (Amelia Wary) and Muncy (Nolah Moyer and Chevelle Bauman).
“It’s a great feeling to win a national championship, and I am grateful for the opportunity to play for a title two years in a row with this group of girls. Winning back-to-back titles makes this even more special for the team,” said Bolinsky.
“The competition was more competitive in the 16uA class this year. Last year was our first experience competing in the USSSA Eastern Nationals and defending the title this year makes both accomplishments equally as special to our team. The win speaks to our team chemistry and the bond formed through our years of competing together.”
The Havoc got a good tune up heading into nationals when it won the CT Fury Platinum Class A Elite Showcase the week before in Connecticut.
“It was a 20-team showcase, but the teams that were invited were probably some of the best competition we’ve seen as a group this year,” said coach Devine. “The girls played out of their minds that week to go 7-0-1, but we saw pitching that challenged us, defense that challenged us and hitting that challenged us.
“It was a real good experience, and the girls just keep rising their level of play. They know there’s not much they can’t do. It was fun to watch, and I’m just as much a fan as I am (their) coach,” added Havoc’s coach.
The Havoc proved to be worthy adversaries in the USSSA Eastern National field when they rolled through pool play with a 4-0 mark to earn the No. 1 seed for the championship bracket.
“We earned the No. 1 seed; therefore, expectations were high,” said Bolinsky. “Remaining undefeated throughout bracket play was definitely not an easy task, especially with the level of competition we played. Going 9-0 on the week was a reflection of the team focusing on one game at a time.”
Said coach Devine, “We have a real straight forward approach to big tournaments. Instead of looking at us needing to win nine games, we take a 90-minute at a time and one game at a time approach. This year was easier because the girls know it works. We battled, we were challenged, and we fell behind a couple of games. We had a couple of close games, but it just shows they are firing on all cylinders now. It’s good to see as a coach.”
One such game that proved the Havoc had the mettle to win it all was when the team fell behind 3-0 to Angels Fastpitch in Thursday’s championship quarterfinals.
But the team kept fighting, and the players clawed their way back to claim a 5-3 victory.
“The girls really kept their cool and they kept their composure knowing we could chip away and battle back. We did the same thing last year, and that gave them the confidence they could come back,” said coach Devine. “That’s when you start to say this is your week. I told the girls they would have to come from behind to win. And it held true this week — again.”
Said Bolinsky, “We knew competing in the Open A class of the tournament would bring much tougher competition than in previous years. We had a close game against Angels Fastpitch where we were losing by three in the early innings and had a comeback win. I believe this specific game brought the best out of our team for the remainder of the tournament.”
Nolah Moyer was named the tournament MVP after she led the Havoc in the circle, and at the plate during the week.
Defensively, Moyer went 8-0 with a 1.485 ERA, 47 strikeouts, 15 walks and 10 runs given up (7 earned). And at the plate, Moyer led the Havoc with a .600 batting average to go along with 12 hits and 10 RBI.
Moyer posted a .594 average along with 63 hits, 50 RBI, 11 doubles, one home run and 22 runs scored on the year.
“Moyer was unbelievable. Offensively, she led us in almost every category there was. Pitching, she was the best pitcher in that complex, and that’s saying a lot because there were a lot of good pitchers there,” said coach Devine. “Nolah kept us in every game and she’s pitching with so much confidence, and the team believes there’s nothing they can’t do with her in the circle. She came into her own this season.”
Bolinsky, who plays shortstop for the Havoc, batted .348 during the national championship tournament and had eight hits (including one double and one triple) and 19 runs scored.
During the season, Bolinsky had a .480 average along with 47 hits, seven doubles, three triples, three homers, 15 RBI and 63 runs scored.
“Sydney is a spark plug at the top of the order. She’s so darn fast and she has so many ways that she can beat you with her bat. And she’s one of the best shortstops – she’s at another level. She can beat you in a lot of different ways and she’s so athletic. She’s so much fun to watch,” said Havoc’s coach. “She plays shortstop, but he catches for her high school team and she’s a second team all-state player. For Syd to step out and play a position she hasn’t played all year, says a lot about her athleticism.”
And according to Bolinsky, solid pitching from Moyer combined with a lot of timely hits were the main contributors in the Havoc’s championship run.
“Our pitching was very impactful on the weekend and our defense backing it up was solid. However, the timeliness of our offense was crucial in securing each win,” said Bolinsky. “It’s more difficult for the opposing team to compete when they are playing from behind, and its less stressful for our pitching and defense knowing we have the offense to answer.”