London Cubs head to Italy for U-13 youth event

Mon 13 Aug 2018

The GB Under-13 Girls’ Fastpitch Team, playing, as usual, as the London Cubs, is heading for Collecchio in Italy on 13 August for the European Softball Federation’s annual Massimo Romeo Youth Trophy (EMRYT) tournament.

This is the ESF’s annual event – more of a Cup tournament than a European Championship – designed to get as many Under-13 players as possible to experience the competition and atmosphere of a European softball event. 

The tournament will begin on Wednesday 15 August and will run through Saturday 18 August, with a record number of 18 teams from nine countries having registered to play.


Stepping up

This year, the London Cubs, under new Head Coach Jodie Rushin, have stepped up a level to play in the Sport Division, where they will face tougher teams including Italy 1, Italy 2, Moscovia (Russia) and Brabant Bandits (Netherlands) -- although at least the teams will be composed entirely of girls.

For the first time, the Cubs will play with a 12” hard softball as opposed to the 11” soft ball that has been used for the past couple of years in the Futures Division.

GB Under-13 Manager Julie Spittle said, “The teams may be tougher, but our players will be playing the game they have learned and trained hard for, and there should be no awkward high bounces and funny seams for our pitchers and infielders to grapple with.”

This year, the team will fit in training sessions and scrimmage games in Italy before the tournament begins.

Julie Spittle said, “We have found at previous tournaments that a lot of the girls are quite nervous before the first game, as it is the first proper game a lot of them have played.  Hopefully, getting in some training and play beforehand will alleviate some of those first-game nerves.”

Training

Over the weekend of 11-12 August, while the BSF League Nationals were being played at Farnham Park, the full Under-13 squad assembled there for a training camp.

It was the first time the full squad had been able to train together, mainly due to holidays, although weekly training sessions have been run since the end of the LondonSports playing season in early June.

The past weekend was jampacked with offensive drills, defensive drills, hitting, sliding, bunting and stealing.

Training sessions have also included work on infield plays and rotations, fly balls, relays from the outfield and general fitness.  The squad has also been working on hitting using GB Softball’s pitching machine, as well as on general hand-eye coordination.

The squad

As usual, this year’s London Cubs will have both seasoned and new players.  Five new players are traveling, along with eight players who are on their second or third tour.

Thanks to being able to scout for players at LondonSports, and with Jodie Rushin able to attend youth training sessions run by the Chichester Falcons’ youth programme, a squad of 13 players has been assembled.

The players are:

Matilde Crapanzano
Cara Edwards
Jessie Emery
Casey Johnston
Campbell Lazar
Megan Longman
Alex McGregor                          
Amy Morris  
Shinju Phalon
Cordelia Stevens
Chelsie White
Georgia Wilson                             
Mili Youngman

The staff is:

Team Manager:  Julie Spittle
Head Coach & Sports Therapist:  Jodie Rushin
Assistant Coaches:  Nadya Pavlova and Elysee La Porte

The schedule

The London Cubs are in a first-round pool group in the Sport Division along with Italy 1, Moscovia 1 and the Brabant Bandits from the Netherlands.

The Cubs play one game on Wednesday, against Moscovia 1 at 11.15 am Italian time, and then two games on Thursday – against Italy 2 at 11.15 am and the Brabant Bandits under the lights at 8.00 pm.

Playoffs will begin on Friday, and the Cubs’ schedule will depend on how they have done in the first round.

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