MOUNT VERNON — This is not your typical 8-under softball team.
The Mount Vernon Parkside 8-under All-Stars are practicing this week for their final tournament of the year. As they prepare, the players are swinging the bats with confidence. And the smiles on their faces mix just right with the determination on their minds.
And why not? After all, they’re only 30-0.
“Everywhere we go, they’re the show,” said team bookkeeper Jason Jones. “Every tournament we’re in, we hear the comment, ‘This is the tournament. We’ll get them.’ But nobody has.”
The Parkside All-Stars haven’t lost a game. The truth is, no matter where they go, they haven’t really been challenged. Twenty-seven of their 30 victories were shortened by the run rule. Only once all season did they fail to score 10 runs — but they still won, 9-2. Most of these games are against traveling teams which usually accept only the best of the best in terms of talent.
So far this season, Parkside had outscored its opponents — traveling, recreation league, all-star or whatever — by a combined 514-71.
Just so you don’t have to do the math, that’s an average score of about 17-2.
“Virtually all of them come from a background of their parents being either coaches or ballplayers themselves,” said co-head coach Chad Christopher. “And I think that just feeds right up through their kids. That’s how they’ve developed their good techniques of fielding and good hitting.”
When you attend a tournament for young girls of this age, you expect a lot of smiles, giggles and hugs. It isn’t too uncommon to find a player in the outfield paying more attention to the dandelions than to the batter.
With the Parkside All-Stars, what you see is young girls having a good time — and playing like pros. Swings are fundamentally sound. Batted balls are flying over outfielders’ heads. On defense, they’re making diving catches and blink-of-an-eye 6-4-3 double plays.
“We don’t have one girl that stands out,” said co-head coach Candace Merillat. “They all do. On this team, you wouldn’t point out one girl who stands out as the one to beat. They all stand out. Every single girl has played a couple innings in every game.”
The girls all came from the Mount Vernon Girls Softball League this summer. Even though many of them were on different teams, they all knew each other. The coaches claim you could see each of them develop as the season went on.