Travel team baseball has begun to assert itself as a major player on the Wayne County sports scene over the course of the past few years.
As American Legion and teener leagues wax and wane, organizations like the Northeast Pride have carved out niches for themselves during the summer months.
Under the direction of veteran coach Joe Curreri, the Pride's 12U team is right in the middle of an outstanding 2013 season.
"Pitching and defense are what win championships," he told TWI Sports.
"We really stress throwing strikes and making all the routine plays in the field. I've had coaches come up to me and say our kids play better than their varsity teams, so that's quite a compliment."
The Pride began its current campaign back in April and will be playing through mid-September.
To date, the local lads have compiled a sparkling record of 19-6.
Included among those wins are championships at the NEPA Wood Bat Battle (April 27-29) and the Tannersville Mothers Day Tournament (May 11-13).
"I'm really proud of how well the kids are playing," Coach Curreri said. "This is a really well-balanced kid. We pitch well, play great defense and hit the ball hard all up & down the order."
The Pride return to action next weekend for the first of three local tournaments.
These events lead up to a weeklong sojourn in Myrtle Beach (SC) for an invitational that will feature 60 elite travel teams.
That tourney runs from July 28 - August 2.
On the Field
The Northeast Pride 12U travel team consists of players from all over the region.
Page 2 of 3 - According to Coach Curreri, the roster boasts talented youngsters from Honesdale, Wallenpaupack Area, Forest City, North Pocono, Delaware Valley and Sullivan County (NY).
Ryan Deom, Anthony Dell'Aquila, David Curreri, Nate McLain and Zach Klapak have been providing leadership on and off the field this season.
Deom hails from North Pocono and has already pitched one of the year's genuine masterpieces.
The Pride went undefeated en route to the Mothers Day tournament title in Tannersville. There, Ryan drew the starting mound assignment in the championship game, a battle with local rival Baseball UPA. And, as it turned out Deom dominated the Scranton-based squad.
The cerebral right-hander authored a perfect game in pacing the Pride to a 17-0 Mercy Rule rout. Ryan worked five flawless innings, allowing no runs, hits or walks while striking out five.
"I think the best thing about Ryan is that he throws strikes," Coach Curreri said.
"He has a pretty decent fastball, but his off-speed pitches are phenomenal. Ryan changes speeds, moves the ball around and keeps batters off-balance."
While the Pride hangs its hat on pitching and defense, it never hurts to have a line-up that can simply terrorize enemy twirlers.
At the team's most recent outing (a solid fifth place finish out of 30 teams at Diamond Nation in Flemington, NJ) Pride players put up some dizzying numbers.
Curreri led the assault with a perfect 4-for-4 outing in one game. The tough-as-nails second sacker rapped out three singles and a double. He also scored three runs and drove in a fourth.
McLain was every bit as impressive. The slugging first baseman hammered a towering grand slam, tallied twice and collected a game-high five RBIs.
Deom also went deep. Ryan reached base four times with a single, two walks an a homer. He accounted for seven runs including four RBIs.
Page 3 of 3 - Dell'Aquila closed out his weekend with a perfect 3-for-3 day against the Hitting Connection Bulldogs, an elite team from Uxbridge (MA). Anthony crushed two homers, doubled, scored three times and drove in five runs.
Klapak was far & away the tournament's most prodigious slugger. A third baseman who throws right and bats left, Zach wound up with three round-trippers and an eye-popping 12 RBIs.
Thanks in large part to these hitting heroics, the Pride won three of its four games at this Memorial Day baseball extravaganza.
Coach Curreri's squad opened with a 17-4 rout of the Binghamton Mets, then suffered its lone loss to the eventual champions from Atlantic City.
The Pride rebounded well, though, with back-to-back wins over the Diamondtown Brush Backs of Delaware (12-0) and Bulldogs (15-5).