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Catonsville High hosts 14 Baltimore County teams at first Allied Softball tournament

Allied Softball teams play in first tournament

Catonsville senior Brandon Amorosi played games outside on the turf at Catonsville High with his Allied Softball teammates for the first time on May 7 and he couldn't hide his enthusiasm.

"It gives us exercise and it's great," said Amorosi, noting he participated in the Allied Bowling and Allied Soccer tournaments at the end of those seasons.

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But, until this year, there was no season-ending softball tournament.

The regular season consisted of each team playing seven Allied Softball games indoors. Hereford won the West Division and Parkville captured the East crown.

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When Amorosi was asked which was his favorite of the three sports, he responded, "Softball, that's why I came out today."

He wasn't the only one who came out on a picture-perfect spring afternoon and participated in the "The Dream Games" tournament, co-sponsored by League of Dreams.

In 2004, Catonsville resident Frank Kolarek founded the League of Dreams with the goal of seeing that everybody, regardless of limitation or disability, gets a chance to be a player in baseball or softball.

The non-profit organization has served over 3,500 players.

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At the tournament, 170 Allied Softball athletes from 14 Baltimore County schools made history on the four makeshift softball diamonds that were set up, and four 40-minutes games were played simultaneously.

The teams rotated fields after each game.

Kolarek, president and executive director, and Mike Bordick, League of Dreams chairman of the board and former Major League player and current analyst for the Baltimore Orioles, were there offering inspiring words.

Kolarek has deep roots in Catonsville sports and his son, Adam, a 2007 Catonsville High graduate, currently plays baseball for the Triple-A Durham Bulls, after making his Major League debut last summer with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Frank Kolarek worked closely with Catonsville allied softball coach Alicia Brady and Brad Kressman, Baltimore County Public Schools Allied Sports Resource Teacher, to make the tournament a reality for the first time.

"We basically found out about it through Alicia and then with Brad through the school system and approached them about how to co-host the event and to bring it here to Catonsville and everybody was in favor of that," Kolarek said. "It was really hosted by Catonsville, but we helped to co-sponsor it, so it was great, great people, it was the right combination, between us, as a separate non-profit organization, and the school of Catonsville."

Before the tournament began, all the athletes convened in a circle at midfield and Kolarek and Bordick offered inspiring words.

But, all the athletes wanted to hear was "Play Ball."

"What we want to do is give them that experience of being outside, on the turf, in a tournament setting, national anthem, like a big league experience and it's worked out great," Kolarek said.

There are no team championship trophies for the tournament, but Kolarek provided an award.

"The one thing we've done is create a League of Dreams Cup and it's a trophy that is voted on by the coaches that goes to the team that exemplifies leadership, sportsmanship and teamwork, Kolarek said."

Perry Hall was this year's recipient.

Losing to Parkville in the first game of the tournament barely phased Catonsville's Amorosi.

"We were facing them [Parkville] and we lost, but it's all right, we'll go get them next time," Amorosi said.

Amorosi was awarded the Brittney Reese Scholarship, named for the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in high jump.

The award is given each year to an allied athlete who participates in at least two sports and shows outstanding character and sportsmanship in life and sports and will attend a secondary school after high school.

Other Catonsville softball players who participated included: Caroline Bodley, Kellcy Carroll, Shaun Cunningham, Rachel Donnelly, Eric Jacobs, Paul Jeske, Jordan Johnson and Emme Shifflett.

Managers on hand were Katherine Anderson and Caroline Brady and alumni that returned to assist were John "Nick" Giles and Megan Hellman.

In addition to the Allied Softball players, most of the Catonsville High athletes from varsity and JV spring sports teams attended as volunteers or to offer tips.

Towson High's Nick Batho didn't need much training playing on turf for the first time.

Using the solid foam bats, he was perfect (3-for-3) hitting the hard foam balls in the opening game against Dulaney.

"It's actually a lot of fun and I can hit better," said Batho, who noted, "getting three hits" was his most exciting part of the day. "I'm batting 1.000."

It was only the first game, but he knew what he would do in the rest of the contests.

"Play the hardest," he said simply.

The rest of the Towson team included: Sandy Bailey, Sophie Harrell, Patrick James, Cierra Kratochvil, Symone Munford, Luke Tearnan and Lia Tufano.

Dulaney's squad consisted of Eddie Kil, Rodolfo Zurek, Chase Blanchard, Ben Kazanzides, Chase Douglass, Katie Eppler, Larissa Maits, Brady Elrick, Brian Duffy, Brandon Duran and Becca Custer.

Most home runs were greeted like a walk-off homer in the seventh game of the World Series, but it was the kindness and support between the competitors that took center stage.

On one play, in the game featuring Lansdowne and Randallstown, the batter from the Vikings hit a foul pop just out of the reach of the Rams first baseman.

The ball spun foul in front of the base, with neither player realizing it, so the Lansdowne player stayed on first base.

The Randallstown player gave his opponent a high five.

The Lansdowne roster included: Evan Jett, Brittney Creamer, Becky Liphart, Jet Michaud, Noah Neal, Cadasha Slowe, Adriauna Vandiver, Abby Wilkens and Celeste Williams.

After the game, Lansdowne's Jett knew what the day was all about.

"It was great," Jett said. "My funnest thing was playing with my team."

He wasn't worried about the outcome of his game against the Rams, but admitted he was nervous about the day before it started.

"A little, but in the end of the day we are all good people," Jett said. "As long as everyone has fun, that's all that matters."

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