EDITOR'S NOTE: Information was not yet available for Lodi, Calif., or Rochester, N.H., as the teams had not yet arrived in Pittsfield as of Tuesday night.
Here is a look at the teams that will challenge the host Berkshire Force for the Babe Ruth 16-U softball World Series championship:
Del Rio, Texas (Nitro)
Invitational team; regional runner-up, second in state tournament
Head coach: Nat Terrazas
Summer record: 8-3
Top pitchers: Cipriana Tobias, RHP; Marissa Alarcon, RHP; Regan Kohut, RHP
Top hitters: Dariela Quiroz, C; Tina Montejano, 2B; Christiana Saenz, SS/CF; Jasmine Valdez, 1B.
Comments: Del Rio has plenty of right-handed power in the middle of its order, with Montejano, Quiroz, and Valdez as the heart of the lineup. Saenz is Nitro's leadoff hitter. "They're all pretty disciplined," Terrazas said. "They hold back on those risers, but they scored a lot of runs in regionals." The righty-dominated pitching staff also gives Terrazas confidence. "I think every one of them has a little different style," he said. "I think it's going to confuse [hitters] a little bit. I hope it does, anyway!"
Fern Creek, Ky.
Ohio Valley regional champions; Ky. state champions
Head coach: Stan Williams
Summer record: Not available
Top pitchers: Madison Williams, RHP; Kalie Gish, RHP; Cassie Peavler, RHP
Top hitters: Madi Yates, 1B; Peavler, P/SS; Hannah Brown, 2B.
Comments: Fern Creek makes its third consecutive trip to the World Series. The team went undefeated through both state and regional play to earn its latest trip. "I think we have quite a bit of confidence," assistant coach Joni Brown said. "This is a very good group of girls." Brown noted that Fern Creek has grown with experience and success, but is still relatively young and had to fight back in a few games at the regional level. "We have improved every year," she said. "The experience they've gained over the last two [years] will show."
Pacific Northwest regional champions; Wash. state champions
Head coach: Bob Hyde
Summer record: 6-0
Top pitchers: English Hyde, RHP; Jillian Swor, RHP
Top hitters: None listed.
Comments: If Hoquiam's win-loss record seems small, it's only because the team was assembled just for the state, regional and national levels. Clearly, the Hoquiam Girls Fastpitch Association knows what it's doing, as Hoquiam is a World Series returner this summer. "I believe they're ready," Hyde said. "These girls have been playing together since they were 8 or 9 years old. We've got five kids who played last year, but none of them were starters." Still, those players have learned well and will lead the team in its third straight World Series appearance. "Our program, we start them from 10 to 16," Hyde said. "It's a long way to travel to try and get ready to play, but we're excited. We're here. We should be OK."
New Jersey state champions; invitational team
Head coach: John Jacko
Summer record: 25-5
Top pitchers: Sierra Jacko, RHP; Alexa Saccomanno, RHP
Top hitters: Saccomano, P/SS; Lainey Lewis, 3B.
Comments: Kinnelon took third at the Babe Ruth Extreme National Championships last year, according to their coach, and are a 14-under team playing up a level. "I think [states were] good preparation for what we're going to expect up here," Jacko said. The coach has his team focused on fundamentals and, defensively, limiting errors behind a strong pitching staff. "If we do that right, we feel we can compete with anyone," he said.
Madison County, N.C.
Southeast regional champions, N. Carolina state champions
Head coach: Jeff Loven
Summer record: 23-3
Top pitchers: Sam Gosnell, LHP; Sam Harwood, RHP; Hannah Jennings, RHP
Top hitters: Hannah Anders, CF; Brooke Vilcinskas, C; Lexi Ammons, SS.
Comments: Madison County is one of a select few squads that has familiarity with other teams in the tournament. They beat North Tampa in the Southeast regional final, wrapping up a tourney that saw Vilcinskas come through often with her bat. "We won the semifinal game 16-0 and the finals 15-0," Loven said. "We had a real good Sunday." Despite having seen at least one team also in the Series, Loven pointed out that much of the field is unknown to him and his team. "Teams come in from all over the country and you've never seen them before," he said. Gosnell is his ace on the mound, and Loven said the southpaw has good movement on her pitches. "She'll hit 60, 61 on the radar," he said. "Just everything she throws moves, and she's always around the strike zone."
Manchester, N.H. (Granite State Rockers)
Invitational team; third in New England regional, second in three other tournaments
Head coach: Bob Collette
Summer record: 9-6
Top pitchers: Chloe Robidoux, RHP; Lindsey Lopez, RHP
Top hitters: Lopez, P/3B; Robidoux, P/DH; Makayla Reed, C; Charolette Caron, RF.
Comments: Collette says his team is confident heading into the tournament, especially on offense. With one of the shorter trips to Pittsfield, you would think Manchester might have even more of an advantage -- but Collette's team isn't ruling out any competition. "It was a short trip for us and that probably helped us out," he said. "But all these teams are good and everyone's bringing their best." Robidoux will throw both a riseball and a change-up, but has good velocity and movement. "Lindsey's more consistent," Collette said. "She just throws strikes right down the middle and will pepper the plate."
North Tampa, Fla.
Southeast runner-up, Florida District 10 and state champions; invitational team
Head coach: Kevin McKay
Summer record: 12-2
Top pitchers: Darcy Gott
Top hitters: Gott
Comments: Representing the North Tampa Athletic Association, North Tampa is a relatively young team, with 13- or 14-year-old players on the roster. Still, McKay says his players are very athletic. "We're not going to be able to play power ball with the older gals that are out here," he said, "so we're very good at understanding the game. We're good defensively, we have very good quickness and we've got solid pitching. We're going to have to make sure we use those tools." North Tampa's offense has proven it is capable of putting up double-digit run totals in wins throughout the postseason.
Mass. state champions; Jennifer Kane tournament champions
Head coach: Michael Utz
Summer record: 10-2
Top pitchers: Emily Spillane, RHP; Kaitlyn Utz, RHP; Megan Pereira, RHP
Top hitters: Abbi Conley, 1B; Alyssa Dillan, 3B; Nicki Ross, SS.
Comments: Plymouth has been playing a division up almost the entire summer, winning the 18-under division in the South Shore Summer Softball League. Its pitching staff is young, all of them 14-U players. "Right now, we've played pretty steady all summer," Utz said. "We're a very defensive-minded team and that really gets the momentum for our pitchers. The confidence has been up, since we played in an 18-U division in the South Shore league." Plymouth secured its trip west with its state championship, and did not have to participate in the New England regional tournament in order to reach Pittsfield.
St. Charles Parish, La.
Southwest regional champions; La. state champions
Head coach: Neil Legendre
Summer record: 28-2
Top pitchers: Mia Casanova, RHP; Cassie Legendre, RHP; Brianna Anderson, RHP
Top hitters: Morgan Foret, C; Katie Brady, LF.
Comments: The team is a World Series returner looking to improve on last year's appearance. Both St. Charles losses came to 18-under teams, according to their coach. The team also has Louisiana Governor's Games, ASA Class B and Dixie Senior Division state championships to its credit this summer. They'll bring a homer-happy team that has no trouble hitting for power. Foret, the team's cleanup hitter, is batting over .800 this summer. "Last year, we may have hit two home runs total," Legendre said. "This year, we're in the high 20s in home runs." Casanova is expected to bring good velocity and off-speed action on her pitches as the team's top starting pitcher.
Southern Plains, Colo.
Midwest Plains regional champions
Head coach: Chad Rouse
Summer record: 11-4
Top pitchers: Leah Osborn, RHP; Maci Kennedy, RHP; Miranda Mitchek, RHP
Top hitters: Savannah Gyruman, C; Kennedy, P/1B.
Comments: Rouse feels the Midwest Plains regional championship got his team going, and has them playing at their best heading into the World Series. "It did a lot," he said. "We started late, right before the state tournament, playing together. We built our way; we made it to the regional tournament and ended up winning." Despite not winning a state championship before regionals, the experience together benefited Southern Plains. "That much more experience, that was the big thing," the coach said. "We needed experience. We didn't have a lot together as a group." Rouse expects his team to both hit and run the bases well this week.
Waretown, N.J. (Thunder)
Middle Atlantic regional champions; N.J. state runners-up
Head coach: Darren Mooney
Summer record: unknown
Top pitchers: Cheyanne Nastasi, RHP; Alyssa Ward, RHP
Top hitters: Francesca Aimone, C; Cristy Peterson, CF; Gabriella D'Amodio, SS.
Comments: The Thunder aren't afraid to play from behind. "Whether we're down a couple of runs, which we were in most games we played, we always battle back and give ourselves an opportunity to win," Mooney said. "A lot of the time, they do play from behind. But it doesn't bother them." Nastasi, Waretown's top pitcher, is younger than most -- eligible for 13-year-old leagues, as Mooney said -- but has handled the older batters well in the postseason. "She's actually becoming a pitcher this year [with] her location, and her speed's getting better and better," the coach said.
West Volusia, Fla.
Invitational team; Fla. state runners-up
Head coach: Sarah Yockey
Summer record: Wins unknown; 2 losses
Top pitchers: Daisy Beam, RHP; Rylea Yockey, RHP.
Top hitters: Yockey, P/1B; Kiaira Manuel, DP/3B.
Comments: Berkshire County fans will first want to know about West Volusia, as the Athletic Club's team is the first opponent for the Berkshire Force in pool play Wednesday. Not only has West Volusia only lost twice -- both losses to North Tampa -- they've only been scored upon twice. "Great pitching," Yockey said. "When the ball got put in play, they made great plays." Rylea Yockey is expected to be West Volusia's power hitter. "She's great at two-strike hitting," Sarah Yockey said. "She puts the ball in play, and hit a home run in states."