The Baldwinsville Little League 16-18 softball team that won its first-ever District 8 and New York State championships in July. Front row, from left: Christina Young, Hailey Akmentins, Gabriella Hahn, Jenna Kocik. Middle row: Brittany Husted, Jessica Naylor, Kenna Kelley, Serena Capsello, Sarah Lalla, Mackenzie April, Sara Napelitano Back row: manager Ray Grabowski, coach Chris Young, coach Brett Naylor.
Baldwinsville Little was expected of Baldwinsville Little League’s 14-16 softball team in mid-July when it entered the post-season phase of its spring and summer season – which only made the ultimate result that much more sweet.
By the time they were done, B’ville had won the Little League District 8 and New York State Senior Softball championship,s the first team in B’ville Little League history to ever take those crowns.
Under the direction of manager Ray Grabowski and coaches Chris Young and Brett Naylor, the team, was drawn from three different squads with Baldwinsville ties – the Little League program, along with ASA Travel Ball and School Ball.
The key to it was that it was a cooperative effort between the three groups, rather than a situation where they were competing for players. They also encouraged the girls to play as much softball as possible through the various age levels.
With a combination of players from Baldwinsville (home of the Bees) and Phoenix (home of the Firebirds, the term “Fire Bees” caught on as a team nickname.
Eleven players were on the Fire Bees’ roster, including Hailey Akmentins, Mackenzie April, Serena Capsello, Gabriella Hahn, Brittany Husted, Kenna Kelley, Jenna Kocik, Sarah Lalla, Sara Napelitano, Jessica Naylor and Christina Young.
As the team raised money for its various trips, a local company donated an unusual item. Dubbed “Steve the Tin Chicken”, it sat in the dugout for all of B’ville’s tournament games, causing a lot of strange looks from opponents.
More important, though, was what took place on the field. The Fire Bees first won the Little League District 8 championship, which helped them advance to the New York State Senior Division (age 13-16) Softball Tournament in Haverstraw, a a town in Rockland County in the lower Hudson River valley, just south of West Point.