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The NJ Pride Easton Gold 18-U team won its bracket championship in recent Triple Crown National Invitational in Georgia. (Photos courtesy of NJ Pride)

NJ Pride Wins Its Bracket Title
In Triple Crown National Event
By Steve Tober
For sidelinechatter.com

What better way to spend a very full week of top-flight fast pitch softball than to get in a total of 12 games in two Georgia cities while playing some of the best teams near and far, and winning a bracket championship at the same time.

The New Jersey Pride Easton Gold 18-and-under squad emerged as one of seven bracket winners in the double-elimination Triple Crown National Invitational Tournament held July 14-17 in Alpharetta, Ga., and the Pride then made the hop down to participate in the Atlanta Legacy Showcase where it went 2-2 against some of the elite programs in the country July 18-20.

“The Triple Crown National Invitational is just what it says, ‘invitation only,’ and it’s a neat format with 85 teams put into seven very competitive brackets and we were thrilled to be able to get in so many games in just a great week of softball,” said Pride coach Rob Stern. “You have to win four games to capture your bracket championship and after four games in pool play makes for a very busy time, but you get some terrific softball in, that’ for sure!

“Then, we made the hop down to Atlanta for a great showcase where we played teams like Gold Coast Cooper, one of the real good teams from Florida.”

Pride had faced other national stalwarts in the Triple Crown National event, including Team Mizuno of Florida and the Oklahoma Renegades, a first-rate program with six players who have committed to the University of Arkansas.

“I was sitting with someone and I told them it was like we were playing Arkansas,” said Stern. “You really see some great Division I talent throughout a trip like that.”

Helping to boost the Pride fortunes was a strong pitching staff spearheaded by Jessica Dresswick, who is originally from New Jersey but played this past spring at Montverde Prep, the nationally-known Florida private school where former St. Patrick’s coach Kevin Boyle now coaches basketball.

Rising junior Akillah Mouzon of DePaul and Hampton-bound Jada Fields of Passaic Valley also saw innings in the circle for Pride.

Among the top position players in the Georgia trip were rising junior first baseman Emilie Cieslak of Immaculate Heart, who had a terrific week at the plate with several key hits and rising senior third baseman Cassandra Gerard of Wayne Valley, who batted .500 during the trip.

A defensive star was shortstop Sophia Blasius, a rising senior from Ramsey, who during the stay in Georgia drew the interest of Syracuse University where she will make an upcoming college recruiting trip.

Alicia Bertolino, a rising junior second baseman-third baseman out of North Rockland (N.Y.), also shined on the infield for Pride.

Among the Essex County players on the Pride squad are rising senior outfielder Ally Dabroski and rising junior first baseman Elizabeth Cowell of Mount St. Dominic.

“This team has really responded to the challenges presented its way and I’m proud of the way the girls performed in Georgia,” said Stern. “It was a great experience for everyone and a fantastic way to build moving forward when we play more important tournaments and showcases.”

Stern is assisted by Rutgers Newark assistant Dave Majewsky, Mount St. Dominic assistant Marissa Muoio and former Mount St. Dominic and University of Delaware star Amanda Stacevicz.

The Pride have tryouts upcoming starting Wednesday, July 30 at 6 p.m. and continuing Aug. 5-7 and Aug. 13 and Aug. 18, at 360 Fitness, located at 25 Greenbrook Road in Fairfield. Email njpridegold@aol.com for more information.

The Pride enjoyed the first-rate setting during national tourney in Georgia

 

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