Call them the new kids on the block.
The current East Windsor 12-year-old team, which made it all the way to the Little League Mid-Atlantic title game, started on its way as very good team of 8-year-olds four years ago. Well, guess what? East Windsor has another very good 8-year-old team.
With a 6-4 win over Bordentown on Aug. 2, East Windsor won the district championship for 8-year-olds.
"We want to go back to Bristol (Connecticut, the site of the Mid-Atlantic Region) again in four years," said Rob Bridgman, the manager of East Windsor's 8-year-olds. "That's the goal now."
A good portion of the 8-year-olds got a feel for what it is like in Bristol. According to Bridgman, about half the team went to see the 12-year-olds play.
"We're building that community feeling," Bridgman said. "Everyone was pulling for that 12-year-old team. We're buiding something bigger than one team. It's all filtering down. It's fun to be a part of this."
East Windsor's 10-year-olds also placed second in District 12 this year.
The current 8-year-old team consists of Gina Zappola, Meg Regan, Maddie Frunzi, Noelle Geroso, Emily Reinstein, Jackie Masone, Isabel Hulme, Allie Bridgman, Gina Bibens, Ashley Giampolo, Abby Bell and Sarah Mann. This group was 6-0 while winning the districts.
East Windsor opened the districts with wins against Allentown (17-1), Cranbury (18-3), Bordentown (9-8), Robbinsville (8-3) and West Windsor (22-13). The win against West Windsor came on July 26. East Windsor had to wait about a week before finding out it would play Bordentown in the title game. Then again, it wasn't really that big of a surprise.
"We were both undefeated when we played Bordentown the first time," Bridgman noted. "At the end of the game they said, 'We'll see you in the championship.' We knew we'd see them again."
Even at a young age, it's clear to see which teams are the most talented. These East Windsor girls are talented.
According to Bridgman, the key now is to try and keep the team together. "We have lost a lot of players to lacrosse and soccer," he said.
These girls also need to play a lot of softball. Not even counting what they did in the Rec season, the 12-year-olds played 60 games this season and had about an additional 80 practices. It takes a lot of hard work to be great.
"We're probably starting a little younger with this group," Bridgman said. "About half of the girls on the 8-year-old team are only 7. And at this age, this group probably hits the ball harder (than the current 12-year-olds did four years ago)."
According to Bridgman and Bill Giampolo, the manager of the East Windsor 12-year-olds, having one great team is nice. According to both men, however, building a lasting program would be so much more meaningful.
"That would be wonderful," Giampolo said.
Added Bridgman, "It seems like there was a lot of talk about the 12-year-olds. Hopefully, that helps builds us."
Sooner or later, people should be talking about the new kids on the block.