Storming to championships: Mt. Laurel softball takes two

Mt. Laurel Storm softball collected two titles last month at USSSA Nationals.

The Mt. Laurel Storm softball team shows off its new hardware after a successful trip to USSSA Nationals in Virginia last month. (Special to South Jersey Sports Weekly)

Even without a farmer’s almanac at our disposal, we can say with a high degree of confidence that the forecast for the spring of 2024 is calling for a successful softball season at Lenape High School with a chance for a championship.

How can anyone predict such a thing? Just look at the summer the Mt. Laurel Storm’s softball program has put together in 2019.

Last month, the 10U and 12U Mt. Laurel Storm teams hopped on a bus for a 3 ½ hour drive to Leesburg, Va., and both returned home with new jewelry. And not the kind of jewelry you might find at souvenir shops.

Championship jewelry.

Both Storm teams were crowned champions of their age group tournaments at the USSSA Nationals. The 10U Storm edged the NEPA Shockwave (of Pennsylvania) 3-2 to collect their title, while the 12U team rebounded from a loss to the GC Lady Brawlers (of Gloucester City) to win the second matchup of the double-elimination tournament, 1-0, to capture their own championship.

The members of the Mt. Laurel Storm 10U softball team that collected a national championship last month include (front row) Alese Smith, Gabby Ferraro, Abi Bozarth, Mia Marino, Coco Serenbetz, Lauren Mullin, Alexis Krause, Vayda Pino, Erin Shannon, Bianca Henderson, Olivia Clark and Gabriella Maldonado. In the back row, coaches Mike Marino, Tim Mullin and Todd Serenbetz. (Special to South Jersey Sports Weekly)

“I can’t believe it,” said Tim Mullin, the coach of the 10U Storm. “I went down there just wanting to survive and play on Saturday. … My fear was once Friday came, because it’s double elimination, I feared we’d be eliminated and the trip would be over. I never thought we’d go that far and play as great as we played. I’m immensely proud.”

The Storm’s season began with high hopes but perhaps tempered expectations. The 10U team got knocked out of a tournament in Yardley, Pa., early and moved a level up and struggled at a tournament in Cape May in June.
But during that latter tournament, the team bounced back on the final day and rode that momentum into the rest of the summer.

“What’s great is you could see the progress as we went along,” Mullin said. “During the course of the year we’d struggle in certain games and look really bad. To see them put it all together and go undefeated (in Virginia) — and there were some pretty good teams down there — it was unbelievable to see them do it.”

While the program is currently holding tryouts for next year’s team, they’re going to bask in the glow of this year’s success before summer comes to an end.

“We’re going to have a team party in a couple of weeks and I want to make sure I tell the girls that they’re going to remember that moment forever,” said the 48-year-old Mullin. “I still remember winning my Little League championship when I was 8 or 9 years old. To win a national championship like that, I hope that they stay connected. It’s something they’ll always remember.”

The 12U Mt. Laurel Storm won a national championship last month in Virginia. The members of the team include (front row, from left) Sam Elk, Gianna Bayard, Sarah Buckley, Abbie Villanueva, Katie Vuong, Sydney Michener and (back row, from left) Trinity Saucier, Becca Taylor, Ella Michener, Charlena Fish, Olivia Smith, Maeve Shannon and Gracia Fish. (Special to South Jersey Sports Weekly)