PITTSFIELD -- Serena Stimpson has a view of the 2014 Babe Ruth 16U Softball World Series like nobody else involved.
Stimpson, who assists her father Jim at St. Joseph High School, is head coach Jim Clary's pitching coach for the Berkshire Force team that begins play in the Series on Wednesday. She is also the only person on the Force bench to have played in the 2008 World Series that Lodi, Calif., won at the Doyle Complex.
And when you ask Stimpson what she remembers about the first World Series to come to the city, she doesn't hesitate.
"I think my biggest memory of 2008 was after we played Lodi, it was pouring earlier in the day," she said. "We had a tarp that went over the entire field at Field 1. After we played Lodi, the two teams came over to the field and we just started diving on the tarp full of water."
Stimpson's team was called the Pittsfield Stars that year and was coached by former Pittsfield High School baseball and softball coach Buddy Pellerin.
The team from Lodi went on to win the championship, going through pool and bracket play undefeated. The Stars went through bracket play winless.
Some of the players, like Lodi's Tori Shepard and Brooke Ortiz and Jordan Garrett of Henderson, N.C., went on to have Division I softball college careers. Stimpson played some at MCLA.
But aside from that specific incident, the first thing the Force's pitching coach recalls from 2008 is what happened off the field.
"It was fun and exciting to play in it and say I was a participant in the World Series itself. I think, the majority of my memories are from the people I met," she said.
Several of the young women who played here in 2008 made names for themselves on college diamonds, and the Pittsfield players followed their careers from a distance.
Brooke Ortiz of Lodi, whose father Joe coached that team and just recently passed away suddenly, played for Fresno State while her teammate, Tori Shepard, just finished her career at the University of the Pacific. Jordan Garrett, who no-hit the Stars in the opening game of the World Series for Henderson, set a school record with 534 strikeouts at Division I Western Carolina.
As far as the softball is concerned, Stimpson said it's like night and day -- and not just in the ability levels of the players on the field.
"In 2008, none of us knew each other. It was when Pittsfield Girls Softball was just starting to evolve into a fastpitch competitive [program]," Stimpson said before a recent Force practice. "We kind of were babies really.
"Now, all the girls have competed with each other. The program has excelled and now, it's completely competitive."
The first game the Pittsfield Stars played in 2008 ended up being more competitive than some might have imagined, as the Stars lost to Henderson 3-0.
"I definitely feel good," Stimpson was quoted in an article in The Eagle at the time. "I think most people's expectations were low."
That was then. Now, Serena Stimpson says, is another story entirely.
"We're in it to win it," she said, "whereas in 2008, we were in it to be able to say we were in it and be able to compete with some teams."
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