- September 25, 2014
WINDERMERE — Besting a field of 104 teams, the Windermere Wildfire 18U-Stutsman team won the 2015 ASA/USA 18U Class A Girls Fast Pitch National Championship Aug. 2 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The Wildfire, which has several players with ties to the area, defeated the Tampa Mustangs-Boynton, 3-1, in the championship game that afternoon.
For a Windermere Wildfire program that has a tradition of producing elite players across all of its many teams, the 18U national championship victory for the Stutsman team is a definite highlight.
“This is definitely the biggest event (we’ve won),” head coach Steve Stutsman said. “We’ve won a lot of tournaments, but this is the one that you shoot for.”
The team is home to several players from varsity programs at West Orange and Olympia, along with some players from nearby Apopka and East Ridge. Players who played for West Orange this past spring include Kelsey Morrison, Sabrina Stutsman, Kori Petersen, Jade Caraway and Alex Paulson. Tate McClellan played for the Titans this past spring. Past Warriors who graduated in 2014 include Michaela Hynes and Mary-Sloan Bradford.
For many of the girls who just graduated from high school, the national championship was possibly the last time they will take the field together as they all prepare to go their separate ways for their collegiate careers.
“That was it — that was what made it so special,” Stutsman said. “I’ve been with some of these girls since they were playing in Little League. … They’re playing travel ball eight months out of the year, and we’ve gotten to know these girls.”
The team, which has players who already are taking classes this summer at schools such as Florida State and Tennessee, as well as some with a season of college softball already under their belt, overcame not only an elite field of competition but also scheduling conflicts for some of those players who had summer college courses.
Stutsman said the effort throughout the tournament was one that was full of grit. The team overcame humps that previously had prevented it from reaching the summit. As for what the achievement meant to the girls, Stutsman said because of travel softball’s crucial role in a player’s ability to get recruited, the national championship will be something the players will not forget.
“This national championship ranks right up there with (a varsity state championship),” Stutsman said. “It was a big deal — a very big deal.”
The Windermere Wildfire 18U-Stutsman team includes (classes listed are those for this coming fall):
Kelsey Morrison: West Orange alum, incoming freshman for Tennessee
Sabrina Stutsman: West Orange alum, incoming freshman for Florida State
Analyse Petree: Apopka alum, incoming freshman for UAB
Cassady Brewer: Apopka alum, incoming freshman for UCF
Tate McClellan: Olympia alum, incoming freshman for East Carolina
Kori Petersen: West Orange alum, incoming freshman for Warner University
Alex Paulson: West Orange alum, incoming freshman for UNC-Charlotte
Alexina Mora: rising senior at Apopka
Jade Caraway: rising senior at West Orange, committed to N.C. State
Brianna Daiss: East Ridge alum, incoming freshman for Marshall
Chole Rosa: Lake Brantley alum, incoming freshman for Daytona State
Michaela Hynes: West Orange alum, rising sophomore for FGCU
Mary-Sloan Bradford: West Orange alum, rising sophomore at East Carolina
Alex Suzuki: Belleview alum, incoming freshman for Nova Southeastern
Lindsey Bert: North Florida Christian alum, rising sophomore for Furman
Sydney Jones: Palm Beach Gardens alum, rising sophomore for Southern Illinois
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].