Almost time to play ball: Teams arrive in Pittsfield for Babe Ruth Softball 16-U World Series
PITTSFIELD -- Alex Desrochers knows what it's like to be new in the Berkshires. The Berkshire Force softball player, now 15, first moved to Pittsfield from Dallas when she was 7.
So when she saw that the travel-weary Madison County, N.C., team needed a break after Babe Ruth Softball 16-U World Series orientation Tuesday, she knew just what to do.
"I live right next to the [Doyle Complex] fields," Desrochers said. "We were hanging out with them over at the fields, and they were all saying how hungry they were. I said, ‘My mom just ordered a bunch of party-sized pizzas. Want to come over?' "
The Force and the Madison County teams then hung out and ate pizza until it was time for the North Carolina squad to head back to the hotel.
If the Force are new at the role of host team, it's not showing.
Wednesday, though, it's time to play ball.
World Series pool play begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Complex, part of a six-game day before opening ceremonies at night. The Force's opening game, against West Volusia, Fla., is at 5:30 p.m. The tournament runs until Aug. 5.
All but two of the teams in the 15-team field arrived in the Berkshires on Tuesday, with three orientation and photo sessions being held at Berkshire Hills Country Club, just across the street from the Doyle Complex.
Babe Ruth League National Commissioner Rob Connor spent his day between Berkshire Hills and Doyle, but was only at the fields for minor matters. He did most of his work Tuesday from the country club.
"I think we're off and running, and in pretty good shape," Connor said. "This is it. After [Wednesday] morning, we'll basically live at Doyle and in the hotel."
Wednesday will begin early for most of the coaches and administrators, with an 8 a.m. coaches' breakfast before a final 9:30 a.m. orientation for the final teams arriving to play. One team, St. Charles Parish, La., has it a little easier than most -- the Louisiana state and Southwest Regional champions don't begin play until Thursday.
"We're going to look for a field to get a little practice in, then find out what Pittsfield has to offer," head coach Neil Legendre said.
The Force players acted as hosts all day, greeting each team that arrived at Berkshire Hills and chatting them up to find out who they were both on and off the diamond.
"My first instinct told me, ‘I need to go meet everybody.' I've never done anything like this before," Desrochers said. "We've been asking them basic questions to get to know people, and some crazy questions. [We get] to know them on a different level other than, ‘Where are you guys from?'"
Desrochers said she won't transition from host to competitor until about an hour before Wednesday's game on Field 2 -- but added that it won't be tough to handle both roles. She plans to walk around the complex and talk to as many players as possible between games.
"I understand that our purpose is to beat these teams, but I don't want to be mean," she said. "I like hanging around people."
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