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Towamensing reaches State Tourney

Area 10-12 year-old Little League softball team has already captured two postseason championships

There’s no substitute for confidence.

It’s something Jeremy Burger believes in and has preached to his Towamensing 10-12 year-old All-Star team since they stepped on the softball diamond earlier this summer.

Over the last few weeks, the confidence that Burger has worked to instill has combined with outstanding talent to lift Towamensing to incredible heights.

It’s a powerful combination that has allowed Madelyn Binder, Autumn Burger, Alayna Delgado, Peyton Graver, Addy Gulla, Lexi Gulla, Bella Marques, Rylee Robertson, Ayva Rodrigues, Leanna Sanchez, Violet Scott and Alex Silfies to capture a pair of Little League championships already — and has given them a chance to play for an even bigger one beginning later this week.

After going unbeaten to capture the championship of the four-team District 18 Tournament in Hazleton, Towamensing followed it up with a sweep of its competition in the three-team Section 6 tournament last week.

In the sectional tournament in Gilbert, Towamensing won its first two games in the double-elimination event, defeating Deep Run (11-8) and Westend (9-5). Westend emerged out of the loser’s bracket to get another chance at Towamensing, but the result was the same as Towamensing scored a commanding 10-2 win over West End on July 3.

Its reward is a trip to Wellsboro to take part in the 2024 Pennsylvania State Little League (Major) Girls Softball Tournament. The tournament will run from Thursday, July 11 through Wednesday, July 17. Towamensing opens tourney play on Thursday at 2 p.m. against the Section 7 champion.

It was the Palmerton/Towamensing Athletic Association’s fourth straight District 18 championship, and its first-ever Section 6 trophy solely representing Towamensing at the 10-12 year-old level (several Towamensing players were part of a Section 6 championship when it combined with Anthracite in 2022).

“We have preached with each of these girls that they need to be confident no matter the situation or hurdle they faced — and they were tested with plenty of those situations during districts and sectionals,” Burger said. “Weather, pitching variables, and even date and time changes were all things these girls needed to overcome and they rose to the occasion.

“I saw each girl take the field or step in the box and dig their toes in knowing we have been here before, or knowing they have had this pressure on their shoulders previously. There was not a girl on our team that hasn’t practiced for their moment of greatness knowing it was coming. We practice for this every time we see the field, and I’m ecstatic that they used it to their advantage.”

For three members of the Towamensing team — Burger, Binder and Marques — championships are nothing new.

Burger and Marques were district champions at the 8-10 level in 2021, 2022 and 2023 prior to winning the district title in the 10-12 division this year. Meanwhile, Binder was on the 8-10 championship team in 2021 and 2022, and now is a part of this season’s 10-12 championship.

“To be part of as many championships as those three girls have is a huge accomplishment, but it’s not done by yourself,” coach Burger said. “That said, all three girls have been major contributors to all of those titles.

“In the end, however, it’s not the trophies and banners that are their accomplishment, it’s the grit, skill and overall confidence these young ladies have gained over this course of time. They have matured not only into great ball players, but great young ladies who play with a team mentality and an overall passion and love for the game. I look forward to them carrying these traits into their junior high careers and hopefully beyond.”

After giving the team a few days off to recharge and celebrate their accomplishments, Burger and his staff — Bill Marques, Joel Gulla, Mike Robertson, and Bo Rodrigues — began preparing for the State Tournament.

“It’s simple,” Burger said of the team’s goals at states. “We’re going to create a positive atmosphere that features the same confidence these girls have displayed throughout our postseason run. We believe that is infectious and sustainable. These girls are conditioned and prepared.

“The bottom line is they love to play. We are excited to participate, and look forward to spending the time on the field, as well as bonding as a team and community through the overall experience.”

The Towamensing 10-12 year-old Little League softball team has enjoyed a successful postseason, capturing the championship of both District 18 and Section 6. Towamensing will begin play in the Pennsylvania State Tournament this week. Team members are, front row, from left, Madelyn Binder, Bella Marques, Ayva Rodrigues, Rylee Robertson, Autumn Burger, Addy Gulla, Lexi Gulla, Alayna Delgado, Alex Silfies, Violet Scott, Leanna Sanchez and Peyton Graver, Back row, coaches Bill Marques, Jeremy Burger and Joel Gulla. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO