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Queens Chronicle

Little League softball state champs!

Our Ozone Howard ladies tear it up, aiming for World Series

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2019 10:30 am

Houston, the Bulldogs have landed.

The Ozone Howard Little League Major Team stormed its way to the New York State Championship with remarkable ease last Sunday — beating the North Shore, LI, team 6-1 in the tournament’s final game last Sunday.

The Bulldogs were nearly perfect in the four-game championship series in upstate Fishkill, giving up just one run in 24 innings.

Next stop: the Eastern regional championships in Bristol, Conn.

The first game is set for Saturday and will be televised on ESPN Plus.

The team’s success has come as no surprise to the parents.

“These girls have been playing together since they were nine,” said Maria DeStefano, who has one daughter on the 12-year-old squad, called the Major Team, and another on the 10-year-old squad, called the Minor Team.

“They all come from different schools, but they love each other like sisters.”

The players maintain their friendships even in the off-season.

“If one of them gets an honor in school, they all show up for the ceremony,” she said. “They really have each other’s backs.”

Apparently, the 11 members of the teams also share something else, a serious competitiveness.

“They hate to lose,” said DeStefano. “It does not go over well with them. They play to win.”

The last time this team lost a game was over Memorial Day, she said, a semi-final game at a tournament in Hershey, Pa.

“I had to think about it for a minute, it’s been so long,” she said.

The ladies ultimate goal is a trip to the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore. in August.

Meanwhile, the Minor Team is following the winning ways of the older girls.

The 10-year-old team won the city championship last week, beating the team from Manhattan.

“They won in the last inning,” said DeStefano. “It was insane.”

The 10-year-old team moved on to the state championships in Dunkirk, NY, south of Buffalo, this week.

Some parents who, like DeStefano, have kids on both teams have been stretched thin since the playoffs began, shuttling between games in different sections of the state.

“It’s been tough,” she said.

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