PA Poison follows their steps all the way to Series tourney

July 18, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Playing softball for the PA Poison is as easy as one, two, three.

"This is going to be a big honor," said Poison 14U pitcher Amanda Wink. "I think we will go and play hard and have fun."

Honor. Play hard. Have fun. Those are the three catchphrases for PA Poison as it advances its U14 and U12 teams to the USSSA World Series from July 25-Aug. 2 at the Disney Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.

"They are ambitious," said U14 coach Jeff Briggs. "They want to play ball. They all played first as a rec team and they love to play. I knew from the time we were training in the winter that we were going to make it and we did real well."


Both PA Poison teams have had their tickets to the World Series punched for some time. The tournament softball season goes from August to August and teams qualify for the Series by finishing in the top two of qualifying touraments.

The U14 team is one of 32 teams which will be playing in the Series and reached by finishing second in three of the four tournaments it attended and carries a 35-19 record.

The U12s will be part of a 24-team field after winning seven tournaments, including five qualifiers, to earn an invitation. The U12s have a 50-13 record overall, including a 39-10 mark in the 2009 part of the season.

The teams will play a three-game round-robin schedule to be seeded in double-elimination brackets to decide the championship.

"This team is special because they have worked together and gelled as a team," said U12 coach Mike Miller. "We qualified early and we have tried to get to the best tournaments to help the team. We played against three of the top 10 teams in the nation and we beat two of them and lost 1-0 to the other."

The team consists of players from Shippensburg, Chambersburg, Mercersburg and Greencastle. The two tight-knit groups have some lofty predictions for their Series runs.

"I don't know if we can win this, but we are expecting to finish in the top 10," Briggs said.

One would think that would add pressure on the Poison players, but they have a common response.

Bring it.

"I'm really looking forward to this, but it is a little nerve-wracking," said U14 pitcher Amber Myers. "We don't want to go in there and lose two games and come home. Then we would miss out on the experience. This team gets along and it helps us play well. No errors wins games."

Wink and Myers are the U14's top two pitchers and see most of the action. The offensive table is set by shortstop Tiffany Briggs and catcher Kelsey Reath, who are the top two hitters in the batting order.

"Amanda has held the other teams and our defense has made plays and we have been able to score runs to win," Jeff Briggs said.

The U12 team is paced by pitcher Sydney Reath and second baseman Miranda Pugh.

"Sydney has stepped up and has pitched some hard-nosed games for us and she leads us in hitting," Mike Myers said. "Miranda is our leadoff hitter and she has a habit of starting the game with a double or a triple to get the team pumped and get us going."

It's a talent that Pugh enjoys providing.

"I have a lot of confidence in myself," she said. "I believe I can do it and I succeed. I know what I am doing and I just do it. I'm amazed that we are going. I never thought we would have made it so far."

Pugh represents the confidence and diversity the U12 team hangs its helmet on.

"I think everyone on this team adds something to it," Reath said.

The tournament trail has been lined with success for PA Poison, but the trip to the World Series means so much more.

"This is a great opportunity for us," Wink said. "There will be a lot of college coaches there and people watching. It will open more doors for us later on."

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