Female Little Leaguer helping Toms River
After defeating the West Salisbury, Md., team Tuesday afternoon, Toms River will play in the regional semifinals in Bristol, Conn., on Friday.
All 13 members of this year's team attend Toms River Intermediate School North. They are trying to duplicate the feat of the township's 1998 team that won the Little League World Series. The star of that squad, Todd Frazier, is now a Major League All-Star third baseman for the Cincinnati Reds.
The 1998 team could cast a long shadow over this group of 12- and 13-year-olds, but Coach Peter Avallone said it's a comparison they welcome.
"A lot of these kids have been playing for five or six years at this point, and they heard it," he said. "It motivates them, they love it."
One of the breakout stars on the team is Kayla Roncin, who has received national attention as a star female player in a traditionally male-dominated sport. According to About.com, 12 girls have played in the Little League World Series.
However, Avallone said all the attention isn't distracting to the team. He said once everyone is out on the field, all the distractions go away.
"Thankfully, it's a great group of kids, they're really tight-knit," Avallone said. "They've been playing for years together and they play for each other, which is extremely important."