PLAINVILLE - The Berlin Little League (ages 10-12) Softball All-Stars lost to Bristol in the District 5 finals by a 21-4 score on Monday evening, but that result does not tell the whole story of the team’s path through the tournament.
“They just fought really hard this whole way here,” Berlin manager Michelle Wieczorek said. “They are fighters. We just had an off night.”
Bristol scored 19 of its 21 runs in the first two innings - including a 12-run second inning - and that was a familiar storyline for Belin.
The two teams faced off in the first round of the District 5 tournament and Bristol won that meeting 11-3.
What led to the Bristol victory and Berlin being pushed to the brink of elimination was similar to what happened on Monday.
“We were in that first game until we blew it in one inning,” Wieczorek said. “So we thought we had a chance with this. If our pitching was on today, we would’ve been right in this game.”
After losing to Bristol in the tournament opener, Berlin did not hang its heads. The players bounced back to beat Meriden in an 18-14 shootout to stave off elimination. Then, they defeated host Plainville 10-5 to reach the championship game with a chance to exact some revenge on Bristol.
In addition to rebounding from a tough first loss to Bristol, Berlin had to battle in each of those elimination games just to get the chance to play in the championship game.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all along,” Wieczorek said of her team’s fight. “The last two games, we were down in the first or second inning, came back, fought hard and we won.”
Berlin even battled in the loss to Bristol. Facing a 19-0 deficit in the bottom of the second, Berlin put up four runs to break up the shutout and put a little pressure on its opponents.
After Monday’s loss, that dedication, will and tenacity showed on the faces of the Berlin players, as many of them were in tears.
“It’s really tough. You can see, all these girls got really hurt,” Wieczorek said. “They were all fighting and we came back a little bit at least. We didn’t just lay down for them.”
While the loss was painful for the Berlin players and coaches, what it symbolized was also emotional.
“These girls have all been playing together for a long time. For some of them, it is their last year playing in Little League,” Wieczorek said, “so they’re all really dedicated to one another. They’ll stop the game and give each other a hug. They’re great.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @K_baum30