Local girls baseball team victorious in national tournament

August 25, 2017
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The Boston Slammers, an all girls baseball team made up of mostly from the JP Regan Youth League players, recently won the Baseball for All National 11 and under girls baseball tournament in Rockford, Ill.

The team stayed for five days at the tournament, where they went undefeated against teams from Washington, D.C.; Canada; and Los Angeles. They defeated the East Bay Oaks, 9-1, in the championship game on July 31. The Gazette spoke with the team during an interview in front of JP Licks on Aug. 14.

What’s the secret to their success? “Just playing hard” said Kaylee Rivera, a member of the team.

The Slammers include girls from Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Hyde Park, Roxbury, South End, and surrounding areas. The team plays in the co-ed baseball divisions of the Jamaica Plain Regan Youth League in the spring season, but practices year-round at the Tobin Community Center and Curtis Hall.

When asked how it’s different playing against a co-ed team, player Sophia Buzzelle said, “Boys are more intense.” Julia Collins, who came to the interview with her sister, a member of the Slammers, also participated in the tournament in a higher age bracket on the Wildcats team. She said that boys tend to underestimate all-girls teams.

The team is coached by Rick Slamin, Kate Lavelle, and Miguel Rivera, all of whom have daughters on the team. The team’s nickname “Slammers” is a baseball play on head coach Slamin’s name.

“Participating in the Baseball for All national tournament was a chance for our girls to meet baseball players from around the country and show them what Boston can do,” Slamin said. “Our success in this tournament will be a stepping stone towards greater opportunities for girls in Boston to continue their interest in baseball and develop their skills.”

The Boston Slammers fundraised to get to the tournament by using GoFundMe and having a bake sale at Curtis Hall. Julia and Celia Collins fundraised by playing ukelele outside of Whole Foods. The team was also sponsored by Boston Center for Youth & Families (BCYF) and Focus Real Estate.

The Baseball for All tournament is the largest girls baseball tournament in U.S. history, servicing 200 girls in three different age groups. Baseball for All is a national organization that supports girls in playing baseball at the youth, high school, and college levels.

Locations for the tournament change every year, and this year’s tournament in Rockford is the home of the original Rockford Peaches from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL).

The team of 12 girls was able to meet Maybelle Blair and Shirley Burkovich, two of the original AAGPBL players about whom the 25-year-old sports film “A League of Their Own” was inspired.

“Rock for Peaches was the first all girls baseball team. Basically, when the men went to war for World War II, the women came together and created a baseball team,” said Julia Collins. “So they played at Fire Field at Rockford. The actual Peaches came to talk to us, and the Wildcats were able to play on Fire Field, which is the place where Rock for Peaches played.”

“One of the Peaches had a cane that looked like a baseball bat. It was so funny,” said Slammer’s player Frankie Lavelle.

The team has spent a lot of time together, and while not all the members knew each other before joining the team, the team is “like family,” said team parent Catherine Cappelli.

Despite being so close, there is one controversial difference of opinions on the team. Two members are Yankees fans, while the rest of the girls support the Red Sox.

“But once they put their Slammers uniforms on, there’s no Red Sox or Yankees, they’re all one family,” said Miguel Rivera, an assistant coach.

“We hope that a lot more girls find us and come out to play because we want our girls to have more opportunities to play, and want more girls to have the opportunities to play,” said Cappelli.

The team will continue to practice throughout the year and will be returning to the Baseball for All tournament to compete in a higher age bracket next year.

For more information about the Boston Slammers, please contact Karen Buzzelle at 617-775-5969 or karenzb@rcn.com. Information about Baseball for All can be found at baseballforall.com.

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