BY KEN MORSE
The 18U Valley Fusion softball team headed into the Nationals in Maryland sporting a 28-7-2 record. The team is comprised of Woodland players Chelsea Donovan, Riley Kane, Isabella Kraemer and Rory Nolan along with Naugatuck players Kendall Allen, Lauryn Ramalho and Sam Mullin. There are also players from Seymour, Newtown, Trumbull and Middlefield.
The team was led by head coach Kelly Kane, along with assistants Pete Calandro and Eric Kraemer. The Fusion had several players who recently got their 100th career hits in high school – Allen, Kraemer, Kane and Mullin – to help spark the offense.
“We have a really good well balanced team,” said Kane. “They are from different schools and even rivals but I know they cheer each other on. We have good team chemistry. We didn’t do as well as we hoped for at the Nationals. The last game we had in the bag until the last inning with two outs. It was a heartbreaker. The girls were upset but probably more becasue this was the last time they would compete together as a team.”
The Fusion dropped a tough opener July 25 to Delaware Express by a slim 4-2 margin. That put them in a tough spot and they drew a 61-5 team, the Churchville Lightning, and fell by a 12-1 score. On July 28, they rallied and picked up a pair of wins, defeating Kraken, 5-1, and the Greylock Thunder, 8-0. Following a 2-1 loss to the Delaware Fillies, the Fusion headed home with a 2-4 record in the tournament.
The Valley Fusion organization is spread out among four age groups – 10U, 12U, 14U and 18U – with equal players from Naugatuck and Woodland along with several area towns.
“I know during the high school season we as coaches are cheering for our Fusion kids to do well,” said Calandro. “We have been involved since my granddaughter Riley was nine years old. My daughter Kelly took over as president and we have been at it ever since.”
Over time things tend to change and that is where the Fusion organization is at the present time. With Riley and a lot of her teammates heading off to college to play ball, Calandro and his daughter Kelly are stepping down.
“I will be stepping down as president of Valley Fusion Softball at the conclusion of the season,” said Kane. “I want to thank the board members Kim Mullin, Candace Nolan and Frank Ramalho. Thank you for your time and commitment to the organization. I feel the organization will be left in good hands with TJ Giambra taking the reins as president with Allison Cunningham serving as vice president. I ask that you support them as you supported me over these past ten years.”
Kane takes with her the many memories of the practices, the travel and the tournaments played over the past decade. She commented about meeting some extraordinary people along the way, including umpires, administrators and parents, along with the players.
“It’s really going to take a few people to even come close to what Kelly has done for this organization,” said Giambra. “Thankfully I got to spend the past two seasons working as her vice president so I’m very well aware of what goes into this.
“The board helps with a lot of the commitments and Kelly has developed a fantastic board. I do realize I have some huge shoes to fill. She did so much for this organization, every team and every player.”
Giambra continued: “I feel I have a good hold on what it will take to keep the organization running. We are looking forward to being competitive and remaing as successful as we have been.”
BY KEN MORSE