The Parkville Thunder U-16 has been underachieving, according to coach Kevin Klimko, and the team's defense has been the primary reason why.
"The interesting thing about this team has been the lack of fundamentals," Klimko said. "We just have not played fundamentally sound in the field, and it has cost us a lot of runs. In my opinion, we have underachieved."
Luckily for the Thunder (18-10), they seem to be playing their best softball at the most important time — the end of the season.
Parkville will compete in the United States Softball Specialty Sports Association World Series in Salisbury July 23-28.
The tournament boasts teams from six states and the Thunder are entering it loaded with confidence.
"In the last couple of tournaments, we seem to be playing the way we are capable of," Klimko said "We are winning about seventy five percent of our games."
Parkville hasn't won any tournaments, finishing third in both the Louisville Slugger Rock N Rumble in early June and USSSA Firecracker Invitational earlier this month.
But the Thunder would love for the USSSA World Series to be the first title of the season.
Six players — Giselle Alvarez, Kaitlyn Jackson, Keri Klimko, Beth
Madore, Miranda Merkley and Maya Smith — have championship experience
as members of the Parkville 14-U team that captured the Amateur
Softball Association Nationals crown last summer in Prince George's County.
"It's our biggest tournament of the year," Klimko said of the USSSA World Series. "We have to bring our A-game to win it. It's our final
event of the season and the girls are all fired up."
Going 3-1-1 in the Be The Best Showcase College Tournament in Severn served as a good tune up for the World Series.
Parkville topped the Frederick Baseliners, 7-4, the Alexandra Tsunami, 10-4, and the New Jersey Force, 6-2.
The Thunder received excellent pitching from Jordan Pross and Jessica Steinbacher and Inaya Jones and Madore each clubbed two home runs.
Pross, a rising senior at C Milton Wright who led Loch Raven High to the state championship in 2011, was especially dominant, giving up one
earned run in 13 innings to pick up two victories.
"We played a lot of good team, a lot of older teams in that tournament so I hope in carries over to the World Series," said Klimko, whos team features , whose team features players from nine different high schools, including Parkville's Madore and Alex Wankel and Eastern Tech's Alvarez, Klimko, Lindsay Meyers and Lauren Thacker.
Nothing excites Klimko about his team than his pitching staff Pross, Steinbacher and Carly Delawder.
Steinbacher led Towson High to its first winning record in years this past spring.
"Jess has been a pleasant surprise in her first year with the team," Klimko said. "She has exceeded all the expectations that we had for her."
Pross is as dependable as any of the pitchers.
"She is one of the top pitcher in the state," Klimko said.
Parkville 14-U wants to finish strong
The Parkville 14-U softball team has a 10-10 record.
That's just might be a pretty good mark considering all the youth on coach Jack Meyers' roster.
"Ten of the 14 kids are first-year (age group players," Meyers said. "We are just trying to get better."
And ready for the USSSA World Series.
Meyers likes the way his team is playing heading into it. The Thunder finished fourth among 12 teams in the Fun in the Sun Tournament in Olney thanks to the pitching of Morghan Fulton, Kim Cook and Miranda Lobus and the hitting of Camille King and Allison Meyers.