Familiarity breeds success for the Brookfield Storm. Two years removed from winning the Little League Softball District 9 Tournament title, the local all-star team was back to its victorious ways recently, capturing the 11-12 age group District 9 championship.
Featuring essentially the same group of players during its previous title run, the Storm edged rival LaGrange 8-6 in the District 9 championship game at Kiwanis Park last week.
“These kids are all friends and click well together on the field,” Storm coach Gary Hoyd said. “The championship game against LaGrange was a really good game. The stands were packed with our fans and the girls played well. There was a bit of a revenge factor, too, since LaGrange beat us [in 2010].”
Last year, LaGrange swept Brookfield in all three Little League softball age groups. In this season’s championship, LaGrange took a 2-0 lead before the Storm exploded for eight runs in the sixth inning. Sarah Schneider led off with a walk, followed by singles from Lyndsey Hoyd and Kayla Verdon to load the bases. Cleanup hitter Amanda Lopez cracked a three-RBI single to set the Storm in motion.
“We just stayed positive and didn’t give up,” Lopez said. “We told ourselves, ‘c’mon we can do it, we can come back.’ Our fans were cheering for us which helped a lot.” Tenley Bozzi added a single that scored two runs and the Storm tacked on three more runs to take an 8-3 lead. Bozzi also pitched 3 2/3 of effective relief for Brookfield. LaGrange rallied with three runs to pull within 8-6 in the final inning; however, Storm starting pitcher Hoyd returned on the mound to get the last out with the bases loaded.
“I think everybody gets along really well,” Bozzi said. “Our coaching staff rocks. It’s just fun to be part of this team.”
The Storm previously defeated LaGrange 14-4 in the tournament’s opening game. LaGrange beat Berwyn twice, setting up its showdown with the Storm.
For the tournament, Verdon went 6-for-8 with four runs and Hoyd finished 5-for-8, with four runs, while Nicole McCabe and Kylee Bravo both had two hits and two walks apiece. Every player had at least a hit for the Storm.
The Storm travels to LaSalle-Peru this week to take on the winner of District 19 in a sectional championship game. Two years ago, Rock Falls defeated the Storm at this stage of the postseason, but the team appears confident about its return engagement to sectionals.
“We didn’t always get along during the [Brookfield Majors] regular season because a lot of us were on different teams,” Schneider said with a laugh. “[Now] we all came together in the end. We have good pitching, hitting and defense. The community has supported us great. A lot of people have been honking their car horns and cheering for us.”
The Storm consists of Bravo, Hoyd, Camryn Hamilton, Isabella Eliopulos, Bozzi, Cameron Shaw, Monica Schmidt, Verdon, Sophia Spirios, Nicole McCabe, Lopez, Sarah Schneider and Brenna Mangan. Gary Hoyd, Mike Bozzi and Dave Schmidt coach the team. The team even has a mascot, Thunder, a bird the girls found by their dugout during practice.