Annual Summer Blast softball tournament brings teams from across the state and beyond
For over 10 years, softball teams from across the state and New England have come to Dartmouth to play at the annual Summer Blast tournament, taking place over three days.
The event requires days of preparation.
Coach Brian Thomas said he and others took off from work on Thursday and Friday just to help set up, and haven’t left the fields at Quinn Elementary on the weekend until close to 10 p.m.
The Dartmouth Girls Athletic League’s tournament hosted five games on Friday, July 14, followed by 20 games on Saturday, then all quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games on Sunday.
Thomas said he doesn’t want to stop there: he’d like to expand the tournament in future years, and maybe even link up with the high school team to get their support.
The tournament also saw some hefty community support: BJ’s donated a large portion of the snack shack’s food, including 200 hot dogs and 200 burgers. East Bay Building and Remodeling and Sarah Korelnek Realty each donated $1,000 to the tournament’s food stand too.
One of the 12 and under teams, the Dartmouth Dynamites Green team, made it to the finals against Tewksbury, but were defeated 16-3, finishing in 2nd place.
“It’s a culmination of what we’ve worked toward all year,” said head coach Kevin St. Laurent. “It was kind of icing on the cake for them … they’ve been at it for a long time and I’m proud of them.”
St. Laurent said the semifinal game was exciting and hard-fought, with many back and forth lead changes.
The Dartmouth Dynamites Gold team can have players up to 12 years old, but all of their players are even younger, as they moved up as a group from the 10 and under team. Thomas said he thought the team might struggle a little as a result, but they battled into the quarterfinal game Sunday morning, before they were taken out in a hard-fought 7-3 game to the Tewksbury Redmen.
“I think they have more potential than what they’re doing this weekend,” said Kyle Welchman, who showed up to support his friend’s daughter Chloe Korolnek on the Gold team. “If they play to their abilities they can win the whole thing.”
One advantage of having a younger Gold team is that the same exact squad will be able to play next year, keeping their team chemistry.
“These are great girls,” said June Reedy, mother of Jayla Cochran on the Gold team. “They encourage each other, they support each other and they really care about each other.”
The Summer Blast was the first and only tournament for the 10 and under team, which was created as a developmental team specifically to play in the tournament. The team lost their three games.
“It was amazing how the girls bonded and came together and played really well,” said head coach Weisman Tabares. “They worked hard and they tried their best.”
The team got together the past winter to practice and drill, both in preparation for the Summer Blast and “just to stay busy and stay active.”
The players’ parents and relatives are also critical parts of the league, Thomas said, and this year “everybody has stepped up big.”
“[The parents] are their kids’ biggest fans,” Reedy said. “They want to see their girls play, then they got to do the extras just to help out the league. They’re coming here to make sure the kids have a league to look forward to.”
Reedy also said she’s proud that a small town like Dartmouth puts the Summer Blast on every year.
“It gives people a place to go and know not just the town, but the community,” Reedy said.
The league will next head to Lakeville on August 12 for another tournament, then will begin tryouts and practices for next season. The teams will also play together in the fall.