Softball: Elmwood Park’s Lady Tigers enjoying successful summer
Updated: August 20, 2012 10:54AM
ELMWOOD PARK — Jim Kelley has coached the Elmwood Park Lady Tigers 18U traveling softball team a long time and his top priority has always been clear.
“As an organization we want to give the girls opportunities to play softball in college,” Kelley said. “That is the main thing we’re trying to do. All the girls are intelligent and straight-A students with high ACT scores. We want the girls to hit the books and do well and they are all dedicated to playing softball, which is obvious by the amazing amount of work they all put in. Many are attending speed camps and taking hitting or pitching lessons.”
Elmwood Park is enjoying one of its best summers ever so far.
The team won the United States Specialty Sports Association state tournament in Joliet and Amateur Softball Association tournaments in North Lake and Aurora.
Elmwood Park also recently returned from New York where it placed second in a college exposure tournament.
The program has taken trips to Pennsylvania and New York at least the past five seasons to get the players exposure and provide possible opportunities to sign with colleges.
“I believe it’s the first time in (program) history that we have won three tournaments,” Kelley said. “We finished second in New York, which is our best finish against the top talent on the East Coast. We are having a very good season, especially for as young as we are.”
The team consists of players from Elmwood Park — Abby Bitterman, Shannon Hodges, Michela Williams, Becky Gruber, Catherine Conte, Katelyn Jakobsen, Ariana Kelley, Nicole Digiovanni, Gabby Uvelli; River Grove — Morgan Maize; Rosemont: Michelle Sansone, Dana Sullivan; Elmhurst— Angela Scalzitti; and Chicago —Kayla Garcia,
Phil Sassone (Elmwood Park), Bob Maize (River Grove) and Jamie Mueller (Hanover Park) are the coaches.
The pitching has been stellar with Maize, Jakobsen, Uvelli and Digiovanni, while the hitting has been led by Scalzitti (.475 average), Maize (.450), Kelley (.403), Conti (.400) and Sansone (.395).
The team has received great leadership from Maize, Conti, Sullivan, Uvelli and Jakobsen.
“Our pitching and defense have been the key to our success,” Kelley said. “We have accomplished things this year that we have never done in the past. These girls deserve a lot of credit for their loyalty, heart and character. It’s really been a team effort and it’s been fun to watch. It’s amazing how you can get girls from different schools and they put it all together.”