The area's top travel softball program continues raking in the awards and accolades at tournaments all over the region this summer.
The H&H Heat is an elite organization based right here in Wayne County. Its teams are comprised of players from Honesdale, Wallenpaupack Area and Western Wayne.
For the last two years, these talented girls have been barmstorming across Pennsylvania and New York in search of the best softball competition available.
This past weekend, the Heat's 14U squad traveled to Horseheads (NY) to play in the 2013 Summer Blast Invitational.
There, under the direction of coaches Bob Martin, Jeff Lesek and Chris Martin, the local lasses battled their way to four electrifying wins and a second place overall finish.
"You know, it's amazing to see how 12 girls from three different schools have gelled so well so quickly," Coach Martin said.
"They're a great group of girls and the parents are awesome, too. It's been a pleasure working with all of them this summer."
Next up for H&H is a road trip to Watertown (NY) for a berth in the Can Am Shootout. That tourney is scheduled for the weekend of July 26-28.
On the Diamond
The Heat began their quest for a gold medal this past weekend in Horseheads with three games on Friday and Saturday.
Despite the oppressive humidity and soaring temperatures, Jami Lesek pitched every inning of every tournament game.
A 12-year-old righty, Lesek twirled a shutout in the quarterfinals, but was every bit as impressive in the semis and title tilt.
"Jami's been working a lot on her off-speed stuff and her change-up is better than I've ever seen it," said Coach Martin. "She wasn't afraid to throw it to anyone and at any count."
Page 2 of 3 - "Jami kept batters off-stride all weekend long."
H&H got off to slow start with a 7-1 loss in the opener to the Lady Monsterz, a team based in Elmira (NY).
Next up was an encounter with the Big Red, a team out of Dewitt (NY). This time around, the Heat cranked up the offense and cruised to a 10-5 win.
This set up a Saturday evening battle with the Homerun Softball Ross squad, which calls Glens Falls (NY) its home.
H&H battled right to the final out in this one, but came out on the short end of a 7-4 score.
So, with a 1-2 record and a disappointing #5 seed, the Heat advanced to Sunday's medal round and quickly began staging upsets.
Coach Martin's girls ran roughshod over their first two opponents, pounding Lawrenceville, 13-1, and then obliterating the #4 seeded Corning All Stars by a final of 16-0.
These lopsided victories set up a re-match with the top seeded Lady Monsterz and H&H didn't squander their chance at revenge.
With Lesek once again in the circle, the Heat rallied for a wild 6-5 win.
This triumph catapulted the local lasses into the tournament championship game, where they faced a re-match with Homerun Softball Ross.
H&H leapt out to an early 3-1 lead in the title tilt, but eventually ran out of gas and suffered a heartbreaking 7-6 loss.
"They may be bigger than us and older than most of our kids, but we're just as good as they are," Coach Martin said. "Our girls are tough as nails and they never give up."
Gloves & Bats
Page 3 of 3 - Coach Martin was especially pleased with his team's defensive play at the Summer Blast.
Alyssa McKean anchored the infield at third, while Janie Murphy (shortstop), Alyssa Watson (second) ... along with the duo of Jenna Schoenagel and Ellie Motichka (first) ... all turned in Gold Glove efforts
"We played errorless ball in the semis and final," said Coach Martin. "Anytime you play solid defense like that, you're going to be in games right to the end."
Alyssa Alexander turned in the Play of the Day in Sunday's semifinal. The H&H leftfielder raced to the foul line to snag a pop, then gunned the ball home to catcher Rachel Tirjan for a dazzling double play.
Jackie Martin also earned high marks for her stellar play in centerfield.
Offensively, Tirjan once again thrived in her role as table setter. The lightning quick lefty was constantly on-base in front of the Heat's "big guns."
McKean and Murphy combined to lead the team in key hits and RBIs.
Erin Worzel came off the bench in several key situations to provide clutch base knocks.
Worzel's moment in the spotlight came late Sunday in the championship game. Erin stood in against the Ross ace and belted a 2-run single.