The Berkshire Force 16-under softball team's long road to the Babe Ruth Softball World Series began this past weekend in Connecticut.
After four games at the USSSA "Beat the Heat" tournament in East Hartford, Force coach Jim Clary is happy -- but knows there are a lot of innings to be played and a lot of improvements to be made before the World Series begins at the Doyle Complex in late July.
"We have tournaments the next three weekends in a row, so we're busy," Clary said. "The more we play, the better we're going to get."
The Force split their four games in East Hartford, falling 5-1 to the Connecticut Titans in the quarterfinal round Sunday. The Titans would go on to win the tournament.
Berkshire beat the Connecticut Angels 7-5 on Saturday, making up for a 4-3 loss to Albany's Electric City Bombers earlier in the day. On Sunday, the Force beat the Western Mass. Intensity 11-3 before bowing out in the quarterfinals.
Jillian Campbell's bases-loaded triple was the big hit of Berkshire's six-run first inning in its win over the Intensity. Emily Koldys earned the win, striking out three and walking none.
Pitcher Ashley Keegan earned the Saturday win over the Angels, and hit a bases-loaded single in the second inning to help her own cause.
Clary lauded his pitchers' work over the weekend.
"The games they pitched were phenomenal for us," he said.
Clary also noted that Campbell and Allie Hunt picked up timely, key hits for the Force all weekend.
Berkshire is back in East Hartford this weekend for the USSSA "Summer Shootout" tournament. After that, they play June 25 at MCLA before a June 28-29 tournament at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury, N.Y.
"It's early yet. These girls have not played together much," Clary said. "They basically only had five practices before this tournament, due to rainouts and graduation going on.
"What I did see, which was great to see ... by the end of the tournament, these girls were really getting along. It's the first two weeks they've been together, but it's going to be a great team."