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Brick by brick: Newport Youth Softball Team Headed to National Tournament

  • Newport Elite U12 coaches Anthony Lord, center, and Jeremy Clement speak with the team during practice in Newport, N.H., on May 9, 2019. The team's 11 players raised the majority of the $31,500 needed to travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to play in a national tournament on June 20-27. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Eden Ritondo, who is a seventh-grader at the Newport Montessori School, fields a line drive during practice in Newport, N.H., on May 9, 2019. The Newport Elite U12 team is traveling to Myrtle Beach, S.C., on June 20-27 to play in a national tournament. The team of 11 players are from the Newport and Claremont area and are in grades 5-7. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Tanya Sanchez, who is a seventh-grader at Newport Middle School, leaves the Newport Elite U12 practice in Newport, N.H., on May 9, 2019, with her cleats and bats packed into her backpack. Sanchez and her teammates raised the majority of the $31,500 needed to travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to play in a national tournament on June 20-27. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Sunday, May 12, 2019

NEWPORT — Eleven Newport area young softball players will soon be involved in what looms as an experience that could bring a lifetime of memories.

After an exhausting period of games and tryouts the girls have been selected to the Elite Tigers Under-12 softball team that will take part in a national tournament next month in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The idea for this project was the brainchild of several parents who started planning for this event in 2016.

“We wanted to take the Newport Youth Girls Softball League to the next level by offering tournament play,” said Brandy Blackinton, who is treasurer of the league and the wife of Jeff Blackinton, who is president.

“Our goal is for each player to have fun while gaining knowledge of the game,” Backinton said. “We strive to to create and maintain and environment of teamwork, honesty and fair play with a secondary importance place on winning.”

This was the message Blackinton delivered to possible sponsors, hoping to raise $23,000 to cover the cost of registration fees and housing for 11 players and four coaches. Apparently Blackinton’s pitch was a pretty good one as Newporters responded in a big way and there is now more than $31,000 in the kitty.

The tournament will be held June 20-27 .

The team is coached by Anthony Lord with Jeremy Clement, Keith McAllister and Shaun O’Connor as the assistant coaches.

After a series of tryouts a team comprised of 10 Newport girls and one from Claremont was selected. “We invited some out of town players to our tryouts and Zoe Stevens of Claremont was selected. ... She earned a spot,” said Blackinton. The rest of the team includes Newporters Peyton Blackinton, Neveah Caron, Natasha Carpenter, McKrissa Decato, Alexis Durgin, Zoey Lord, Emmah O’Connor, Eden Ritondo, Tanya Sanchez and Torrence Williams.

Since the team was selected it has been going through a lot. They are coming off a nine-tournament run last summer and during the winter months have been practicing inside at area schools. “We even practiced in the snow,” said Blackinton.

“This has been a fantastic experience for all of us,” said Lord. “The girls are very respectful bright and willing to learn. The practices have been great and the attitude just outstanding. They have a real passion for the game.”

The team is going to travel to Myrtle Beach in family cars and stay in a nearby motel and are guaranteed to have at least six games.

While being successful at the tournament is not necessarily a goal, but “It would be wonderful to win a game,” said Blackinton. “We know the competition is going to be fantastic,” she said.

While at the hotel Blackinton said the team will be staying in a facility with full kitchens so the parents that are accompanying third children can cut down on expenses by not having to eat out all the time.

Lord likes his team not only for its attitude, but in Lord and Sanchez he has two pitchers that can hit speeds of more than 40 miles per hour. “They can get the ball up there in a hurry,” said Lord.

All the Newport girls are also on the middle school team that is coached by Jeremy Willey and also compete in the nine-team summer league.