PITTSFIELD — After finishing third in last year's World Series, the Berkshire Force 16U softball team is headed to Jensen Beach, Fla. on Tuesday to compete in another Babe Ruth World Series beginning on Thursday.
"Everybody's expectations are high. We are going to have to play well, get lucky at times, and hopefully do well," Manager Mark Pierson said. "We are more confident. Last year. we were a young team, now we know what to expect. We know it is going to be hot and we know the competition is going to be good."
The Force won the NSA State championship in Dracut on a walk-off. In the bottom of the seventh, Gabby DiMassimo scored the winning run for Berkshire. Pitchers Ashley Keegan and Giuliana Pierce helped to lead the team.
Last weekend, the Force won the Babe Ruth State Championship with a two-game victory over the Adams Thunder. Pierce was voted as the MVP of the first game as the team won 10-2. Keegan was voted MVP of the 15-2 win in the second game.
According to the players, almost 75 percent of them have been playing together since they were about 10 years old.
"Our team chemistry is great," Erin Murphy said. "There are teams that get players from all over, but we have been playing together since we were 10. Our chemistry makes us all better and pushes us that much farther."
Murphy, and many of the other girls on the team, are in their third year on the 16U team. Keegan believes that plays a huge role in the team's success.
"We have a lot of the same girls, a lot of the same talent," Keegan said. "We have been working all school year, working all summer. We are trying to set a goal of getting farther [than third] this year. No matter how good a team is, we are going to be confident that we can go out there and playing our game."
During the school year, the players always look forward to competing against each other. Whether it was laughing on the mound or talking a little junk, the girls always had fun, even when sitting on opposite benches.
And while most of the players are used to each other, players like Rachel Voller have been with the team as long but haven't missed a beat.
"When me and the other Greylock kids joined the team, it felt like home," Voller said. "It felt like we have been playing on this team as long as everyone else has."
Just like the 14U team, if anyone would like to support the team, but cannot make it all the way to Jensen Beach, the squad has set up a couple of fundraisers before they leave Tuesday. On Friday, there will be a wine tasting taking place at Skyline in Lanesborough at 6 p.m. On Sunday, the team is hosting a pancake breakfast at Applebees in Pittsfield that will start around 8 a.m.